originally sent this out as today’s micro-email, but i am (surprisingly) getting a lot of responses, so i’m going to re-post it here, so i can share the responses with you. 


from me:

when our brain is overwhelmed, the short answer to “is this forever” is to say: do it for now. for some fixed length of time. for 100 days. for a year. then reassess.

we start off on a goal. things happen as we go on. we never end up quite where we think we’re going. life’s like that.

but if we don’t have a goal then we’re not moving.

and if we’re not moving, then we’re waiting to move.
and then we feel like happiness is something ‘we just don’t have access to’ (I read that in my inbox twice this week from two people on day 0).

yesterday i found out some holy-good-news about me having a bakery here, that makes my original timeline of that dream move from ‘some time later’ to maybe within 2 years.

so as of yesterday afternoon, i mentally moved down that path (to open a bakery). because enough with the sitting and waiting to move. (enough with waiting to be sober, time to head off in that direction and see what happens when you get to 100 days.)

and now i’d like to use this space to ask the universe for what i’d like. i know it won’t arrive quite like this, in this exact format. but i’m heading in this direction to see what happens. because sitting still with no plan is not an option (whether you’re talking about a bakery or quitting drinking).

dear universe, i’d like to be sober long-term. ongoing. i’d like to move job #1 from the diverse stuff i’m doing to just be doing page layout for books for print, annual reports, documents.

dear universe, i’d like to be sober long-term. ongoing. i’d like to have my catering go in a new direction that will eventually lead to having a storefront. not just delivery but actually seeing and interacting with clients. i need some face-to-face work in my life.

dear universe, i’d like to be sober long-term. ongoing. i’d like to continue doing the empathic work of emailing sober penpals, writing, recording audios, and doing sober meetups.

i need a combination of competency (desktop publishing), feeding people face-to-face, and empathic sober stuff.

to focus on any one of these to the exclusion of others would be suffocating (to me, this is me writing about me, your mileage will vary).

i share this thinking, because i continue to bristle when people mention that the sober stuff seems to be my primary job now or that it’s my empire or my destiny or my legacy or my business.
whereas i feel that it’s part of who i am.
being sober is the part that LETS me be other things.
it’s the foundation on which i build other things.
it’s the thing that allows me to even fantasize about a storefront.

for me, to go down the rabbit hole of “sober is my life, it’s my business, it’s who i am, i’m the poster child for sober, i talk and write sober” is a bit narcissistic. (that’s just me. other people do it (successfully?) but i think it’s inauthentic. to say “i got sober then i turned it into a business” just sounds shallow and weird to me.)

I’m sober so i turn it into a business?
I’m sober so i use it to grow and build the kind of life that i want to have. and that live includes emailing and listening and writing in the sober world 🙂 and it includes other stuff too.

(the critic will say: but maybe it’s easier to earn $ selling audios than selling dutch apple pie with two kinds of apples and a lard/butter crust photographed on a blue check dishtowel.
it’s not about what’s easy.
it’s about what’s authentic to me.)

when we share the real stuff and have the real conversations.

So here’s the sunday question of the day. what are you sober FOR? what can you do / be / have in your life that you can only do if sober?

What is your sober = bakery?

transparency? here’s the pie.

hugs from me

i’m using tiny gift button donations today to go to the expensive catering place across town that is doing things that i admire. i’m going to eat a bunch of his food. and i’m going to ask him about doing a ‘stage’ with him (like an internship, but short). i have $70 to spend today (63€) which is a ton. thank you. really. it’s a big deal.


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

  • Today is Day 4 and this is the first time I’ve let another person know. Someone on this blog said they chose 100 days because 30 didn’t seem like enough and a year seemed like too much. This comment was the thing that compelled me to start, so here I am. I love this post about pursuing your dreams, and I’m hopeful about getting back to the place where I’m motivated to do that. Thanks for being here!

  • Love this post! My bakery is a bit of a mystery. I semi-retired so the exciting thing is discovering a path that is brand new.
    So far it includes some volunteering, part-time work, lots more time with friends, and I hope a reunion with the artist in me that got left behind for “a real job”.

  • So glad you decided to open this up on the blog because I love seeing other people’s responses. I love reading what other’s “bakeries” are. I also loved your email on Friday. It set a great tone for me. I agree that it is the best email you’ve sent out yet, IMHO. 🙂 I think I am starting to see my bakery unfold, now. My bakery, right now, is to feel like I’m actually living my life rather than feel like it’s all a dress rehersal. That is my now-bakery. Maybe our bakeries can change as we go? I also love this idea of “bakery” … gives my favorite thing a whole new meaning!! 🙂

  • My bakery = being present for my kids and husband. I felt like I was washing myself away before. Life was passing by and i was creeping along at the edges holding my bag of rocks. I didn’t get to enjoy my kids or husband…heck I didn’t even like my dog really. I was to busy being consumed to be bothered. Running thru the motions to keep everybody quiet, busy and out of my way. No they weren’t going hungry. They weren’t lacking in clothing and they had a clean home. But to really take time to give true authentic self to them and embrace the simple joys of life and the simple joy I find in each one of them. Well, I had forgotten what that was like. I get emotional just thinking about all the time I lost. I would give anything to go back and do it over being the way I am NOW. With the knowledge and self love I have now.
    Thank you Belle for giving me that back.

    My Bakery = my heart, my brain and being actually invested in others without fear of being hurt or left.

    One of the best things about being here is that I am way easier on myself. What I’ve found is that i was so negative to myself. I hated myself truly and felt unworthy to be happy. So I think part of what I set out to do was prove it. This community and you, Belle have given my worth back as well.

    This whole sober life…
    Makes me think of the song…”What a Wonderful World”, my 3 year old was singing it in the bathtub the other night. I listened to her words and cried. Because it really is wonderful this sober world.

  • I’m not sure that I have my “sober=bakery” answer just yet.

    For now, “sober=possibilities”. I was so very stagnant while drinking. I (luckily) was able to hold onto a promising career, pursue a variety of adventure/athletic quests, and maintain good relationships with my family while drinking; however, I did all of those things at 70% (at best). For now, I’m just excited to see what 100% gets me in those areas.

    In the process, I hope to discover “my bakery”. I already have some ideas … cycling, triathlon, reading, gardening, travel, dogs … these are the things get me excited.

    Thanks so much for all of your support Belle, sobriety is so incredible. I never knew.

  • Thank you Belle. I am so glad I decided to try again to stop drinking by joining the Sober Jumpstart. It really works for me, as you can see : ) I can’t wait to visit your bakery and buy something from it : )

  • email from SoberSarah: “I am so very happy you are going to get a bakery.
    What do I get from sobriety?
    No hangover. NO HANGOVER!
    The feeling that I am NOT worthless, NOT broken and a valuable person in my own right.
    Lifting of anxiety and depression.
    The ability to get up early and get on with my jobs, tending to my chickens and chicks (yes real chicks), growing veg, harvesting crops, preserving stuff.
    The ability to get back to being the best I can be when I teach people, rather than being sub par a lot of the time
    Basically, getting my whole life back.
    That’s a pretty big thing and its down to people like you, Belle.”

  • the point of sobriety is not just regaining physical and mental health.It is also about opening up possibilities. For one thing, there is definitely more time and a lot more energy. We can and should do something with it. I am thinking of a zillion local historical research projects within an hour of my home.

  • Cracking email. Things I can now do:

    – Sign up for an online course to do a bit of study (would never have happened as a drinker)
    – Get back to the gym, and even contemplate those morning classes on a Sat morning!
    – Read. I love reading so much but since nearly all my freetime was spent drinking I lost touch with it. I’m back on it again now and loving it.

    Good luck with the bakery!

  • Love this. I got sober to save my family. I’m staying sober because I like the new me way better than the drinking me. Wish I could say I found a new job I love to go along with it (no luck so far) but I’ve fostered, rehomed and saved the lives of 16 dogs in the last two years which wouldn’t have happened if my life was still a mess. Animals are my passion and I’m so glad to be doing something that helps them – and I’m finally proud of myself again.

  • email from topo chico: “I love this. What a beautiful, authentic essay AND what a grand achievement! This is why we’re sober – to get back to our authentic selves, our true selves.
    My bakery = becoming an Ayurvedic health counselor.
    The interview I had a few weeks ago was for a nine month highly intensive and interactive course. It was a success, so I’m putting all of my energy (outside of work – that which pays the bills) and family, into this course. This is something I’ve wanted to do for so long, but never would have had the *space* to start while drinking.
    So, cheers to space and authenticity and goals and achievements. You’re rockin’ it : )”

  • email from soprano: “I just read your email about the bakery. I want to travel more and look forward to going to Paris and buying amazing baked goods from your store. Now that I’m sober I will accomplish more with my singing. Learn new roles, audition more, travel to LA and NYC to coach.”

  • email from capt e: “Excellent Sunday post – very honest and real and thought provoking. And the pie looks amazing.
    Sobriety, self care, is the foundation.
    Sobriety allows me to be an amazing mom, wife, teacher.
    It allows me to get up at 5:30 to go running.
    It allows me to study and pass my classes and tests for my certification and endorsements at work.
    It allows me to learn new skills and knowledge about poultry that I never even knew about 5 years ago.
    I am able to contemplate achieving goals like teaching poultry showmanship, which just seemed overwhelming a year ago.
    I will achieve my next belt in karate.
    Sobriety allows me to have an “EMBRACE” attitude, instead of “oh, it’s too hard, too much, too complicated.” I embrace technology, I embrace my kid’s baseball, I embrace life. Would like to embrace your apple pie!
    Can’t do that with a hangover.”

  • email from DancingRabbit: “Hi Belle. I sent a tiny gift to you today to support your bakery research. I’m travelling and got overcharged US$106 at a hotel. I had real difficulty getting in touch with the hotel by phone (hurricane Matthew, got disconnected, only the night porter on duty) but I persisted by email and eventually got my money refund. In the old drinking days I wouldn’t have noticed the charge and if I had, wouldn’t have had the energy to pursue it. So I send you half with love and keep half for a big sober treat for me. Laissez les bon temps rouler.”

  • email from hollm: “I just read the bakery email. I love it! Being sober leads to so many good things. I just applied to teach at the local college. I never would have done that being a drinker. Sobriety=opportunity.
    Love, love, love the bakery!!!”

  • email from justjen: “I was so happy today to read your email that included your hopes and dreams about opening a bakery. Immediately I started to think about your sober pen pals stopping in to say hi. Maybe there could be a secret password! Like we order the sober pie and there isn’t any sober pie but then you know that we know who you are and you know who we are and then we order the creme brulee instead. With coffee please. : )
    Go Belle!!
    Oh and in addition to being happily sober, I have started my walking. Today will be day three of no more inertia. : )”