broken mirror, bent golf club, two bullet holes [Julie-Joy’s Dad Part 1]

from me:

i received a long email from Julie-Joy’s Dad about his new sober life. it’s so fascinating that i want to share it all with you, but it’s long (i said that already) and so i’m going to split it into parts. Here’s Part 1:


[May 2016]
email from Julie-Joy’s Dad (day 822): “Hi Belle, I wanted some insight with my drinking problem, which I thought really wasn’t that bad. So I sent my “girls” (girls includes my wife) an email and asked them to tell me about the before and after. I was surprised. Actually I was a little shocked! You will like the response from my wife. Enjoy.  This is my original email:  I need your help! I like to read the blogs of “Belle’s” website and I find them encouraging and in some cases sad. I am looking at my own journey and how content and happy I am right now and I would like to add a perspective to the blog (or whatever) from my family. Could you write a paragraph or two about the DAD (& husband) before the 100 day sober challenge, and the DAD after taking the challenge? Thanks and I love you. DAD (and your Mom’s hubby).”

1. Response From My Wife

I really think you were on a course of self-destruction that was going to end tragically … There were a couple of times that I was probably more frightened, and mad, than I’d ever been in my life. There was one night that I was so concerned about you that I left work in the middle of the night to come home and check on you. I had talked with you on the phone and you weren’t making much sense. By the time I got home you were in bed asleep.

There was also an instance with a patient in the ER one night that I thought to myself, “this could be Jeff.” He had a seizure related to alcohol withdrawal. He was right around the same age as you and a daily drinker. Not a homeless alcoholic guy off the streets, just your average every-day worker, wife at bedside. He was obviously altered, couldn’t talk or make any sense, going to be admitted to ICU (withdrawal can kill), didn’t know if he was going to make it and if he did, what would his quality of life be like. That really frightened me. I remember talking to you about it and you blew it off. At least that was my perception.

Then Julie-Joy came along with an initial 30 day sober challenge, I thought to myself “he’ll do it for Julie, she always had a way with her dad.”

Let me back up a bit and give you my example of “frightening moments”: broken mirror (floor length), bent golf club, and also two bullet holes in our house and you not remembering what happened! My heart is racing right now just recounting this…

There was also the way you tried to hide how much you were drinking. I felt God was whispering in my ear: “look here, look there,” and sure enough there’d be a bottle. … Belle entered our lives through Julie. I cannot begin to thank you enough for your gift of reaching people, Belle. It was the absolute perfect time. Jeff took on the challenge in the typical fashion “all-in”! He did 30 days, and then 60 days, and then 100 days. He is now at 822 days and counting. He is amazing and a joy to be around. He’s “fired-up” on a daily basis, and is hard to keep up with. Oh yeah, did I mention I’m much younger than him, six years? A bit of a private joke 🙂 I’m so thankful he’s alive (I don’t think he would’ve at the rate he was going). I get to enjoy his company for the rest of our years together (38 years and counting).

I love you Jeff and I love that you took on this challenge with gust! You have been a huge inspiration not only to me, but your daughters and those around you, and those you don’t even know you. I’ve shared with friends, patients and acquaintances about the change in you, the website, and the person that Belle is and has been to our family. Thank you Belle for bringing this inspiration to us. Thank you for your own 30, 60, 100+ day challenge and inspiring others to “stop thinking about drinking.” You have a gift, thanks for sharing with others and this family in particular. You’re a life saver.

[end part 1]

never mind. look away. eyes on your own paper.

from me:

this sober girl got up at 6:15 and wrote some on the new sober fiction writing project. it’s day 6 of 100 days in a row. remember when i said it was 100 days until christmas? yeah, that.

there are so many ways that writing is like being sober.

you show up and you don’t know what to expect. you’ve heard other people’s stories but you don’t know if they will apply to you. you are sure you’re a special snowflake and that “what works for others won’t work for you.” You get advice from people who don’t get it. You get cheerleading in unusual places.

In my case, i writing to be so close to early sobriety that some days, it’s all i can do to just keep going. i’m on day 6. don’t want to break the streak. don’t want to have to start over.

if you’re like me, you do better with accountability and support. and when i say “if you’re like me” and you think you aren’t, you probably are. You do better with support. You do better when someone you respect, who loves you, who has your best interests at heart says something encouraging. Imagine the storybook version of a grandmother. that kind of support. (if you have a grandmother like mine, whenever i’d complain about a perceived slight or a sister squabble, she’d say “Never Mind,” as if to say: look away. eyes on your own paper. keep your eyes on the road. don’t let your sober car run out of gas.)

and like writing, it’s not enough to feel like you have the ABILITY to do it, you also need the right combination of motivation and spark and timing and momentum. And when you get momentum? well i’m not dumb, i know that momentum is hard to get, and even 6 days is hard to get, so i’m keeping going.

i also set up some external accountability by posting the book, in order, a bit at a time, as it’s written. It’s officially called ‘serializing’ your book, when you print it bit by bit. And if the experiment of posting day by day continues to work well, i’ll share it here too. for now i’m being a bit careful of who/how i share (sounds like sobriety?).

mood-wise i’m doing ok this week. I mean, i’m as sloth-y as ever. I’d LIKE to: clean the house, run a 10K, get my eyebrows done, empty the freezer, read a book about Hope, make 4 new recipes, and go to IKEA.

instead of that list of things i’d LIKE to do, instead i’m doing this: emailing sober penpals, hosting a class about worth (which is turning out to be super fascinating, as we discuss in more depth how the “THING is not in the THING”), writing every day, and going to physio twice a week for a sore shoulder (just tendonitis, nothing exciting). that’s it. i’m not cooking meals, i’m not running much (more walking), i’m not making new recipes. in fact, if you must know, i had canned beans for lunch today (3:02 pm) for the first time in 8 years and they were delish. that’s it.

and like when we make any large changes (writing fiction – which really is just like being sober – it’s creating a new something where there was nothing before), i’m being kind to myself to remember that 6 days is a big deal. that writing daily and doing the rest of my life is enough for now. and any ideas of nice eyebrows will have to wait. the freezer will wait. the new recipes can wait. IKEA will still be there on the weekend.

striving for underwhelm so that the magnitude of what i’m doing doesn’t make my head fly off.

and to finish off, i had some fun making up a mock cover for the new fiction book. this is not real. this is me playing 🙂


cold, rainy, and the soup apparently will not cook itself.

from me:

this sober girl slept in this morning, it’s cold and rainy. I had a large pot of decaf. I am wearing orange Ernie socks, plaid pyjama bottoms, a Roots t-shirt, a zip up jacket. It’s colder than it should be.

I open my inbox and it looks like this: celebration of 100 days, relapse on day 49, reset after 3 years of drinking, frustration with repeated resets. (at this point i pause and finds an audio to send to the frustrated girl, an audio recorded for a different frustrated girl, but applies to this one, too, so resending.)

there are sweet and kind emails in response to yesterday’s micro-email (“yes, i feel like that too”) and there are questioning emails (“did you write that nice thing about yourself and pass it off as having been written by a penpal”) and other questioning emails (“i question your qualifications to teach a ‘worth’ class”).

I edit a podcast interview recorded a month ago, and then email the interviewee (again) to ask if she’d like me to NOT share the recording. i’ve offered before, i offer again. for reasons.

my husband comes home for lunch at noon (it’s 1:20 pm now). i suggest not terribly kindly that he shift his work project from one thing to another, and he declines, and then i feel trapped and i stop talking.

i have a new catering order for later this week which is exciting, although the one where i made the 10 cheesecakes was cancelled. so i have food in my freezer (that’ll teach me to do too much in advance!).

so really, it’s a regular day.

up and down moments. problem solving, linking, writing. working on the fiction project (can you tell how well it’s going? i’m here doing this instead).

i have someone who signed up for the jumpstart class but hasn’t downloaded the audios yet, and is having trouble getting going. i have someone who is celebrating day 156 and has been lurking the whole time.

i have 10 small cheesecakes in the freezer. no that’s true. there are 9. but i wrote 10 before and so i’m continuing with that.

and just like anyone else in the universe, i have emails that lift and some that flatten. i have moments of “oh brother” and moments of perfect alignment.

but really. i’m a girl in her pyjamas (now it’s 1:28 pm). i haven’t had lunch. my husband thinks i’m a turd (to be fair, i didn’t warm him up to my ideas, i just blurted them and he declined), and i fear that i am not going outside today because it is 16C (61F) and pouring rain.

i could make soup with the nice italian pasta that M. brought me when she went home to see her parents, but that seems unlikely. uncooked pasta from ‘rome’ is the same as any other kind of uncooked pasta. it’s the kind that isn’t in my soup. it’s not exotic. it’s uncooked pasta. that is not feeding me at this exact second.

ok fine. i’ll make the fucking soup. fine. FINE.

things i learned yesterday: not everyone loves me every day of the week. no shit. and yes, i am OK with that. i am initially flattened and then i reinflate. i think the reinflating part is the key. and how long it is between flat and reinflated. yesterday I learned that making cheesecake in advance is probably not a good idea unless you want to eat them all. I learned that my idea of writing fiction is VASTLY different from the actual writing of it.

do not say “tomorrow will be a better day.”

instead, you can say: “i have shit days too. one shit day. who cares. make the most of it. order a burger from the food delivery and be done with it. go back to bed.” or you can say “the fiction is probably better than you think it is.” or you can say “i’m one of the lurkers who never speaks up but here’s what i think…”


“I have asked for help and you have given it”

email from mygi (day 1): 

“Hey Belle, just finished listening to Lesson #1 of the Jumpstart class, and I’m in floods of tears because it’s real now and I’m not lurking any more and I’m real. I thought I was broken but maybe I’m not? Sobbing with reality and relief that I don’t have to fight any more.

My longest time sober was about 10 years ago. I’ve always feared quitting outright because I hated that time, it was boring and difficult and I thought that was difficult because I was sober. So I tried moderation, lots of different kinds of moderation, none of which have worked …

What’s different this time that gives me hope is that I’m not going to change anything in my life apart from this one thing. Everything is ok, I’m in an ok place. And I have support, I have asked for help and you have given it. Maybe it will happen to me this time, because I can see the future in you and your sober penpal gang and it doesn’t look so different from who I am now.

I can’t tell you how many times I gave that three year old a doughnut since I returned to day one. Sooooo many doughnuts, soooooo many tantrums. Day one is today again, and it’s shit. I don’t want to be here any more.

And I laugh/sobbed so hard at the corn on the cob thing. Yes, that’s it entirely. I can’t MAKE myself be like that about booze. You’re like that or you’re not. But I’m getting into scary never territory again so I’m going to return to the fact that I’m not drinking now. Not today.

Thank you Belle :-)”

[update: she’s on day 396 today, just celebrated one year sober]

Monday Celebration Roundup

Happy Day 50 to MiMoMa!

Happy Day 50 to Grace (penpal #26)!

Happy Day 50 to Katrinka!

Happy Day 50 to Glitter!

Happy Day 50 to JenJen!

Happy Day 50 to CryBabyinCali!

Happy Day 50 to i.t.!

Happy Day 50 to Lars!

Happy Day 50 to Flyaway!

Happy Day 50 to Lotus Lady!

Happy Day 50 to Sober Tea!

Happy Day 50 to Klowe!

Happy Day 50 to Happy Day 100 to LiquidTracy!

Happy Day 50 to LinZeeLou!

Happy Day 50 to Rambling Rose!

Happy Day 50 to MsM!

Happy Day 50 to Kimpossible!

Happy Day 50 to Doriomom!

Happy Day 50 to BalanceBeam!

Happy Day 50 to Nixie!

Happy Day 50 to BirdSetFree!

Happy Day 50 to Mia!

Happy Day 50 to Hellacious!

Happy Day 50 to Oriole!

Happy Day 50 to Sobriety Unlocked!

Happy Day 180 to Newg!

Happy Day 180 to Leigh Ann (penpal #3)!

Happy Day 180 to Winefreeme!

Happy Day 180 to Alicat!

Happy Day 180 to Superkitty!

Happy Day 180 to 35&changing!

Happy Day 200 to Jacci2!

Happy Day 200 to Sobersparkles!

Happy Day 200 to Mrs.Wooly!

Happy Day 200 to NatureNancy!

Happy Day 200 to redredwine!

Happy Day 200 to Ninabear!

Happy Day 200 to Aimee!

Happy Day 200 to Kaycee!

Happy Day 300 to Stillbridge!

Happy Day 300 to true.d.true!

Happy Day 300 to Elyn Jones!

Happy Day 300 to Becca1978!

Happy Day 300 to Jamie-Tampa!

Happy Day 300 to Capt. Unwined!

Happy Day 300 to Lerawk!

Happy Day 300 to Tiger2017!

Happy Day 365 to Gene!

Happy Day 365 to Lola4126!

Happy Day 365 to TJS!

Happy Day 365 to RubyHarper!

Happy Day 365 to Poppy!

Happy Day 365 to Topo Chico!

Happy Day 365 to Ruby!

Happy Day 365 to Hollm!

Happy Day 365 to Reg!

Happy Day 400 to frupa63!

Happy Day 400 to Tsilver!

Happy Day 400 to VMD free!

Happy Day 400 to Lippy!

Happy Day 400 to TT!

Happy Day 400 to Tierrazul!

Happy Day 500 to KatieMay!

Happy Day 500 to Clearlee!

Happy Day 600 to TJ!

Happy Day 600 to SoberInMtl!

Happy Day 600 to ScrubJay!

Happy Day 600 to Binkles!

Happy Day 600 to Elis!

Happy Day 600 to Lydster!

Happy Day 600 to TrixeeK!

Happy Day 600 to Fern!

Happy Day 600 to Coco!

Happy Day 700 to Tree!

Happy Day 700 to Lucia!

Happy Day 700 to Juliejean123!

Happy Day 700 to RossFSU!

Happy Day 700 to Ami!

Happy Day 800 to Meraki!

Happy Day 800 to Heya Monster!

Happy Day 800 to Shortternnoterm!

Happy Day 800 to Liberte!

Happy Day 800 to AnnieB!

Happy Day 800 to Youngernow!

Happy Day 800 to AnnaD!

Happy Day 800 to Whitbell25!

Happy Day 800 to Beck!

Happy Day 800 to Ginette!

Happy Day 900 to Oz!

Happy Day 900 to Julie-Joy’s Sister!

Happy Day 900 to Faye858!

Happy Day 900 to me-fixing-me!

Happy Day 900 to mythreesons!

Happy Day 900 to Honner!

Happy Day 900 to gingerade!

Happy Day 1000 to Library Girl!

Happy Day 1000 to Joannie!

Happy Day 1000 to Chace!

Happy Day 1100 to Dancing Rabbit!

Happy Day 1100 to Microlady!

Happy Day 1100 to AlexP!

Happy Day 1100 to Chefstarr!

Happy Day 1100 to Monique!

Happy Day 1100 to iphonebonnie!

Happy Day 1100 to chachi!

Happy Day 1100 to nomorepinot!

Happy Day 1200 to Sober Lemon!

Happy Day 1200 to PP!

Happy Day 1200 to Foxie!

Happy Day 1200 to Renee!

Happy Day 1200 to Battersea Park!

Happy Day 1200 to Welles!

Happy Day 1200 to Gra!

Happy Day 1200 to SusieQ!

Happy Day 1200 to IrishDee!

Happy Day 1300 to Going2pieces!

Happy Day 1300 to Apprentice SoberP!

Happy Day 1300 to Blake!

Happy Day 1300 to DeeN!

Happy Day 1300 to FitFatFood!

Happy Day 1300 to Moore!

Happy Day 1300 to Crispy!

Happy Day 1400 to Kirst!

Happy Day 1400 to Mylene!

Happy Day 1400 to InNeedOfGrace!

Happy Day 1500 to Durf11!

Happy Day 1600 to JM!

Happy Day 1600 to Rebecca!

Happy Day 1600 to Digs!

Happy Day 1700 to Amy!

Happy Day 1900 to Thirteenpointone!


loneliness, depression, or boredom

from my inbox:

L: “I’m not doing well. I keep starting and failing. I keep starting out in the morning with plans for a new day 1, even get one occasionally, then feel so good, I decide to get some wine. So stupid, I know. I even thought the Solstice to Solstice would be a good marker for me, but nope. I subscribed to more audios from you, have increased treats … but still fall short in the evening with loneliness, depression, or boredom. I was even half hoping I would get my daughter’s cold, so I would quit again, got two weeks in last time, but went backwards again. My doctor prescribed meds to use to get past the cravings, but I’m always afraid to take stuff, so I haven’t tried them. That seems ridiculous too, since I have no problem poisoning myself with wine.. I don’t want to get caught in the thought of, Oh I’ll just wait until the first of the month. I want this to be my day 1 that sticks.. It will be when I get home from work today, and my brain will say, Oh it vacation time, you have a week off, or one more night, which of course there is no such thing! Heavy sigh.”

me: I know that feeling. I’d quit in the morning and then drink at 6 pm. and then repeat. someone told me they had 1000 day 1s (like 3 years worth) and I believed them. and you know what, it’s normal and totally predictable that someone with an anxiety issue would have anxiety about taking the medication 🙂 you can take it anyway, as a trial. you’ve tried other stuff, you haven’t tried this, and it might help. you don’t wait for special days. you want to feel better today so you start now. date of last drink can be today. really. and reach out for more support. if we are booked to talk once a week, you may find it easier to be more accountable and to get the courage to try the other things that will help. ~ hugs from me



shameless commercial link: book available in paperback, kindle & audio MP3 versions.  Available through Gumroad, which means you can pay with a credit card, including AMEX, no paypal required. Electronic files delivered instantly. Get the bundle.

Photos: Store Windows

Photography Assignment: Store Windows

The goal for this assignment was to take a photo of a store window.

Thanks to everyone who sent in pictures, this post is now closed to new submissions.



 This post is now closed to new submissions.



you’ve tried it for year. now try something else.

this is an extract from podcast SP206 being sent out to podcast subscribers today.

it’s about you wanting to be sober. During a recent live call, D asked me what she could do to be sober, since she’d been trying for a year. here’s my answer to her. This is a 3 minute extract from the podcast (and update, she’s on day 34 today, so something about this answer seems to have worked).



You want a different result. And it’s not that there isn’t support available for us, it’s that we don’t want it. If your thought process isn’t working now like it did before, then you do new things now. You’re going to need different things to get you going. you’ve changed. the elevator only goes down. The time to step off is right now.

This audio is taken from podcast SP206 (the full version of the audio is 24 minutes long).


Download the audio podcast episode 206

Sign up for the monthly podcast subscription
(1-2 new audios per week, you can cancel whenever you like … but you won’t. more sober tools = good)

(ps, my blog allows for anonymous comments – so you don’t have to fill in a name or an email address to post your comment below).

Question: What phrase do you hear in this audio, perhaps as if for the first time – something that makes you think “oh yeah. that.” I’ll select a comment in the next 48 hrs and will send a present. anonymous comments are fine.


Tuesday Celebration Roundup

Happy Day 50 to ree67!

Happy Day 50 to Fifty & Free!

Happy Day 50 to Sillymelove!

Happy Day 50 to Gracesea!

Happy Day 50 to mich2point0!

Happy Day 100 to Arya!

Happy Day 180 to Hernoodlyness!

Happy Day 180 to Jacci2!

Happy Day 180 to Honeybadger!

Happy Day 180 to Sobersparkles!

Happy Day 180 to Mrs.Wooly!

Happy Day 180 to NatureNancy!

Happy Day 180 to redredwine!

Happy Day 200 to La Sobria!

Happy Day 200 to Bridget!

Happy Day 200 to Blou!

Happy Day 200 to Jazzhands70!

Happy Day 200 to RetiringPartyGirl!

Happy Day 200 to Stefanie!

Happy Day 200 to IngridandMac!

Happy Day 200 to Peewit!

Happy Day 200 to Lavender!

Happy Day 200 to Sheree!

Happy Day 200 to Gina!

Happy Day 200 to Helen!

Happy Day 200 to LunaBlu!

Happy Day 200 to Gomez!

Happy Day 200 to Sings!

Happy Day 200 to ararebird!

Happy Day 200 to mummabear!

Happy Day 300 to Honoring Grace!

Happy Day 300 to Boozy Betty!

Happy Day 300 to A_Sober_Cannibal!

Happy Day 300 to Shannon!

Happy Day 300 to Sisty!

Happy Day 300 to Sohocat!

Happy Day 300 to Ashley!

Happy Day 300 to Grace514!

Happy Day 300 to Indy!

Happy Day 300 to Pwhims!

Happy Day 365 to Bemmy Girl!

Happy Day 365 to BattleMatt!

Happy Day 365 to Maverick!

Happy Day 365 to Molly Jones!

Happy Day 365 to April!

Happy Day 365 to Jaded!

Happy Day 365 to RachelB!

Happy Day 400 to Nomobsing!

Happy Day 400 to Sabrina!

Happy Day 500 to Patten!

Happy Day 500 to KT Web!

Happy Day 600 to ShellMN!

Happy Day 600 to SarahBee!

Happy Day 600 to NSRunner!

Happy Day 600 to mamafergs!

Happy Day 700 to Sooz!

Happy Day 700 to EMJ001!

Happy Day 700 to Lavenderzone!

Happy Day 700 to TickleMeShelmo!

Happy Day 800 to Lilac!

Happy Day 800 to ElizabethDC!

Happy Day 800 to Silver Birch!

Happy Day 800 to Mil!

Happy Day 800 to Seekingpeace!

Happy Day 800 to Yoda!

Happy Day 800 to VTgirl!

Happy Day 800 to MJP!

Happy Day 900 to Sophiesomething!

Happy Day 900 to Rache B!

Happy Day 900 to YogayamagirlJock!

Happy Day 900 to Sea Turtle!

Happy Day 1000 to Junebug!

Happy Day 1000 to Frenchie!

Happy Day 1100 to Fleur!

Happy Day 1100 to Chatsworth!

Happy Day 1100 to Cricket!

Happy Day 1100 to Shar!

Happy Day 1200 to GW!

Happy Day 1200 to JustHadToHaveIt!

Happy Day 1200 to Apprentice Annie!

Happy Day 1200 to ParisienneKnitter!

Happy Day 1200 to Run Dontwine!

Happy Day 1300 to Jacques!

Happy Day 1300 to Rose!

Happy Day 1300 to Santa Cruz!

Happy Day 1300 to Phoebe!

Happy Day 1300 to Doll Face!

Happy Day 1300 to Telling The Words!

Happy Day 1300 to Sherri!

Happy Day 1300 to Lurking with Intent!

Happy Day 1300 to Libby!

Happy Day 1300 to Traci!

Happy Day 1300 to Winkle!

Happy Day 1400 to Jeroen!

Happy Day 1400 to Lucy!

Happy Day 1400 to TipTree!

Happy Day 1400 to Cat Girl!

Happy Day 1500 to Kristi Coulter!

Happy Day 1500 to C How!

Happy Day 1500 to Sarita!

Happy Day 1500 to Ingrid!

Happy Day 1600 to Carrie!

it can’t be that important

if you work in a place with a boozy culture, it can’t be that important to ‘fit in’ that you’ll do something that isn’t what’s best for you.



It can’t be so important to fit in. It just can’t. So you have three choices: you either attend the events and don’t drink, or you don’t attend, or you work somewhere else. And a boozy cruise? I say no to that, hands-down, and here’s why.

This audio is taken from podcast SP204 (the full version of the audio is 20 minutes long).

If you’re not a podcast subscriber, you should be. do that here >