fresh bread is BETTER

it’s not that i quit drinking so that i could cater. but catering definitely had something to do with it. maybe you also have some hobby, life pursuit, thing that you like to do that you can’t really do well, or enough of, when drinking. god, that could include anything, right? all the things that we do poorly or not at all – childcare, running, work, career, books read (or written). for me it was catering. i could get up at 6 a.m. to bake bread when drinking BUT i hated my life. i hated when the alarm went off. i’d plan all these catering events, planning to NOT drink the night before (duh) and of course I would, then it’d be morning and i’d literally hate myself and my life.

so once, about 4 months before i actually quit drinking, i had a really large catering job, the biggest to that point in my career – lunch for 20 people, with additional desserts for 50. she ordered everything (i also had no sense to limit the menu back then, and i only had one fridge…). she ordered handmade caramels with dark chocolate and sea salt, she ordered 3 lemon meringue pies (had to order new glass pie plates from the UK because they’re not available in france – and then the client broke one of them … another story). she ordered sandwiches and chili and quiche.

and when this large job came up, back in march, before i actually quit, i KNEW that i couldn’t do the work if i was drinking. knew it with 100% certainty. so i made a deal with myself. i wouldn’t drink for the 5 days of prep time. and i didn’t. I got up and ran every day (sometimes only for 7 minutes in one direction to the store). i did catering prep, baking, mixing, premeasuring all day, then i did job #1 at night. and then i had a dessert in the bathtub. every night. turns out this would be the blueprint for being sober longer-term, too.

when the catering job was over, the seed had been planted: if i want THIS thing to happen, i have to give up booze. at least for a while. at least for now. I have to give up drinking because it makes me hate my life.

and i did give up booze (intending to only quit for a month – see the archive links on this blog to July 2012). and then i did cater two weddings, do sandwiches for the embassy, cater for a perfume store’s annual party. i’ve done brunches and dinner and take out and birthday cakes. i can set my alarm for 6 a.m. to bake bread and not hate my life (ok, being sober hasn’t really made me a morning person, but i can do it). i’ve even done a few overnight shifts where the bread has to be fresh to make sandwiches in the morning, and so the bread is mixed at midnight, shaped at 1:30, baked at 3 a.m., and cooled by 4:30 a.m. to begin assembly. you can’t cut hot bread.

you can’t drink and bake overnight. you can’t drink at all. alcohol pours into the spaces and crowds out everything else. and i have to say. fresh bread is BETTER than alcohol. by a mile.


new book here > 3 versions available (e-book, audio, paperback). yes, i’m still signing the paperbacks. yes, there are some left. yes. there’s one for you. yes.


I want to put this online, to hold myself accountable. I want to document the noise in my head. I'm tired of thinking about drinking. date of last drink: june 30, 2012

  • When I was drinking I would wake up in that foggy place and have to ask myself “Did I drink last night?” Once fully awake I would take account of my drinking and the disappointment in myself was worse than the physical feelings. Then would begin the ritual bargaining with myself about Day 1. Every single day. Now as I wake up and ask myself “Did I drink last night?” I feel such a happiness and RELIEF to realize that I didn’t!! It’s like that feeling when you wake up from a bad dream and realize it wasn’t real. No self loathing and beatings. No more bargaining lies just to be able get out of bed and face the day. Some days I still struggle with what lies ahead but I am gratefully beginning to believe I can handle whatever may come. Sober. Yay me.

  • Waking up early to go to work after a bad’s night sleep due to drinking the night before is just awful. You are dealing not only with the physical shit but the mental anguish as well. Then you have to go to work and get through the day. Torture!!!! Waking up early with no hangover is the best. Just like when you were a kid. Fresh and clear. ☺

  • I wanted to be a yoga teacher and yoga when you are hung over is not fun!! So yoga teacher training was my sober reward

  • Mornings ARE better, but I don’t think I have ‘a thing’. I am so scared that I don’t. Maybe I have been faking it all this time.

    • maybe you need to be sober 60-80-120 days to see what you fill your time with. and maybe that’s your thing. if you’ve been overdrinking for a long time, you don’t know what your thing is. and maybe your thing is ‘feeling good about you’ or photography. or making muffins. sober first, sort other stuff out second.

      • This! we get the posts we need when we need it for sure. Day 11 here. Came home after work grumbling. Thinking this sucks (work) but having a glass of wine to numb it all out isn’t an option. so how do I change it? No rush, let’s see what else the universe has to offer! It will be interesting to see what comes up sober, without the complacency that comes with the wine!

  • Day One. You are right,: they are the most awful creatures known to us. They fill you with a little hope, only to be dashed the next day, week, month. Perhaps this time I will steer strong.

  • Love this post Belle, I have drunk to much the night before many special events and then woke up hungover, muddled through the day smiling and charming(or at least I thought). While really thinking I can’t wait till this is over. Then have people leave and pour my wine as a reward for making it through. What a waste. That is not living life!! I can’t wait to get to the point everyone is at and find out who I am.
    Day 5

  • This happened for me with music…i wanted to start playing more keyboard gigs. If i drank while i practiced, it took longer to learn songs and i got frustrated. If i drank at gigs i didn’t play as well. If i didn’t drink at gigs, i stayed up for hours after drinking to “make up” or sometimes “catch up” with the crowd. Then i quit and suddenly i can’t even accept all the playing opportunities coming my way. This is what i love to do and i never realized that drinking was impeding any progress until it was removed. On top of that, my head is clearer and sharper now and for the first time i understand things like playing by ear and chord progressions that in 37 years of playing piano i never understood! Here’s to taking on new things in a sober world!!! Thanks for what you do, Belle! Savannah (142 days)

    • Love this post!! Yes, mornings are 100% better now that I am not drinking. I love the quiet moments before my house starts stirring. Alcohol was drowning my dreams. Thanks Belle!!

  • I can relate to this post. I definitely run a restaurant better in sobriety. I am less easy to anger, I really LISTEN to people and more in tune with employees…gosh this is important. I’m actually enjoying cooking again, enjoying my customers, lots of stuff that the hangovers disguised and “made smeary” ( not a real word) but you know. My senses are heightened and it’s good in some ways… still lots of buried ones to surface I’m sure. Bread is definitely better than alcohol… maybe I’ll take up baking. Never claimed to be able to bake but why not give it a try…

    • Quitting drinking hasn’t given me a new life… it has enhanced and made real the life I have. I too am a caterer/chef and now really enjoy the interactions with my clients. I can look them in the eye and really see them and have an actual “grown up” conversation. Oh yes, early morning coffee, walks in the evening, reading at night, clear conversations and now some friends even ask for my clear perspective on situations! Who knew??!!! Loving the life I have re created. Best wishes to everyone in their quest for living their best lives.

  • Thanks for sharing your story. I enjoyed it and could really relate to it. Drinking made me hate my life too – luckily I don’t do that anymore (drink or hate my life :-))

  • I love the post. Had a wedding party for my daughter Sunday, it is do nice not worrying about whether or not I should have another glass of wine, sleeping soundly because alcohol and a pounding heart is not waking me up at 3am. And best of all waking up refreshed. Everyone has reasons and motivations for quitting, and I am happy that I had mine and for some reason, it stuck this time.

  • I love the sentence “alcohol pours into the spaces and crowds out everything else”. It really resonated with me…I’m accomplishing so much since I stopped. I have a clearer sense of where I’m going and what I want to do. Before it was just overwhelm, and fog. And I hated my life. No more! Thanks Belle!

    • A life goal, I wanted to hike all 46 high peaks in the Adirondacks. I would drive to my cabin in the mountains and drink a bottle of wine, get up at 4:00 AM and start hiking, smelling wine in my sweat while hanging on to a rock at 4000 feet, not a good plan. Decided (smartly) to give up drinking until I completed my goal. I became a 46’er last summer, and have never felt better. Never going to go back to that place, head pounding, shaking, dehydrated, emotional. Loving life and fresh bread and mountains, all sober.
      Indian Lake

  • What a difference being sober makes. I wish I had quit drinking before I retired. My job was difficult at best, but how much easier it could have been without a hangover! Up at 5:30, to be bright and courteous at the front desk of an inner city high school at 7AM just doesn’t work well under the fatigue and fog of a bottle of wine the night before. No wonder I couldn’t wait to retire! Fresh bread is WAY better than alcohol, I agree, and so is waking up refreshed and ready to start the sober day.