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I’m trying anything new

email from P (day 57): “Dear belle. Quick question. Is the PDF of the first year of your blog free as part of my jumpstart or is it to be purchased? Hugs

me: it is separate, but you don’t have to buy it – you can read it all online if you’d prefer. it just might be easier in one file but certainly not required.

P: “OMG. You really are a human at the other end! Despite following your correspondence in minutiae for weeks, I’d somehow in the depths of my mind wondered if you, a real flesh and blood human, would write to me! I’m sort of over the moon. Electrically generated? Using a standard response and putting name at top to personalize it? These are some of my dark cynical thoughts. I’ve never done anything like this — reaching out to a support online. I’m trying anything new, and guess what, it’s working. I’m sooooo far out if my comfort zone (I’m a medical doctor used to telling everyone else what’s right and wrong, what the evidence shows blah blah. Big hypocrite).
Can you imagine running a drug and alcohol unit, dressed in your little nighty expensive suit, walking around writing drug charts, counseling and “knowing it all”, when knowing … that you’re messed up and out of control — not on the outside — that was as clear as day going to come one day, but the feeling of being a big fat phony and using my intellectualization as a big excuse. I’ve known that having degrees and money and fancy cars and beach houses doesn’t protect you — makes it easier to hide, but it does and will catch up. I’m nowhere near ready to tell my story. I couldn’t even put it into a journal and then burn.
But, Belle, whoever you are, this thing you’ve given birth to is the first time in 20 years that I see light and hope and freedom. I’ve had the best 8 weeks that I can recall since stumbling on The Bubble Hour and then to you. We are a similar age. Your words ring true and hit the notes that resonate. I get it. Thanks. I’m rambling and writing as getting the teenagers off to school.”

[update: she’s on day 1344 today]

are you working full-time this week?

from me:

What’s happening in the news doesn’t change what I have to do today, which is: be safe, protect my family, protect myself, protect my mental health, be sober, stay calm.

Because really, no matter what’s happening, running away with anxiety feelings won’t serve me. And it certainly won’t make me better able to do my job.

There are a lot of people in this economic world, right this minute, who aren’t working (aren’t able to work, teachers who’ve been sent home, restaurant workers who’ve been sent home, FedEx delivery people who’ve been sent home, all the staff at the Gap is on furlough) …

But a smaller percentage of us are working through this time, including while trying to homeschool kids (like still doing a 10 hr day where you’re in charge of staff, making decisions about who’s being laid off and who’s being furloughed, in addition to homeschooling your 7-year-old).

I have many healthcare workers in my inbox, who work on the front-line, and are going to work every day. I have nurses, I have a radiology tech who is continuing to read scans. I have a guy who does financial planning and is assisting companies as they decide what aspects of their businesses to shut down, I think he’s doing that with 10 companies at the same time when normally maybe only one company a year might have a crisis. (I think he said he had 16 out of 20 companies that were in crisis.) So he’s working 14 hr days.

I’m also working between 4 and 10 hrs, depending on the day. Certainly in the very beginning (3 weeks ago), that my energy was so unpredictable. I was fine, then I was exhausted, then I was sleeping a lot, and then I was fine, and then I was exhausted, and then I was sleeping a lot…

[we do what we need to do. those of us who are working now have different strategies perhaps. one of mine is ‘no news’ … if you’re working full-time this week, what is one of your ‘keep your head attached’ strategies?]

~

This text above was typed out by me, based on the april 1st facebook live update from the duck pond. if you’d like to watch this video, you can go here. you don’t need to log in to facebook or ‘like’ the video to watch it.]

~

this is a close-up of painting “Day After Day 2”
link here > www.artsober.com

Drinking is incongruent behaviour

This is an audio clip from Sober Podcast #215. I did a personalized audio for a subscriber about fear, defensiveness, rationalizations. And it’s also about the incongruent idea of drinking — how having alcohol in your life wouldn’t match up with what you say, and who you say you are. You can listen to this clip from the audio, and then send me a comment.

If you’d like to listen to the whole thing, you can use the link to download link at the bottom of this message.

Question: In what way is drinking incongruent with who you say you are?

Download / Purchase the entire podcast episode ($4.99)
Sign up for the podcast membership (1-2 new audios per week, you can cancel whenever you like … but you won’t. more sober tools = good)

 

 

~

This is one of the first paintings Mr.Belle did, back before i started putting them on the site. this is a RARE example of early work … Exit the situation. If booze is an elevator that only goes down, then you EXIT. Now would be a good time. You were looking for a sign? Here’s your sign.… 

new painting posted
this is #614: Exit
link here > www.artsober.com

thanks for your support, it means so much! at one painting per day, that’s enough to keep the lights on …

see this new painting here > www.artsober.com

~ hugs from me (and him)

 

 

f*ck this boring sober sh*t …

email from A: “Hello Belle, the arguments and rationalisations that Wolfie comes up with are nuts! I’ve made a list of Wolfie’s repertoire of tricks. And each time Wolfie pipes up, I can quickly identify which trick he’s trying to pull, and call him out!

  • Romanticisation (it’s soo nice and cosy and glamorous and comforting to have a lovely glass of red/white/beer/etc)
  • Minimisation (I’m not that bad, I haven’t crashed a car, my husband still loves me, I can handle my addiction)
  • Bargaining (just one drink; if I treat myself to a relapse today I can get back on the horse tomorrow, etc.)
  • Defeatism (I’m no good at this sober thing, I might as well drink because I’m going to fail eventually anyway, I’m hopeless, etc.)
  • Rebellion (fuck this boring sober shit, wohoo, I’m a shit-hot rebel and I’m going to defy all the insipid vanilla crap my sober self is telling me to do, because who gives a fuck!)
  • Impersonation (this is when Wolfie pretends that he is me, that his voice is actually MY OWN voice, and he does his level best to convince me that what I really, truly, absolutely want is to drink no matter what my sober self is telling me).”

~

[have you heard some of the wolfie voices lately?]

 

~

Grace when times are hard. Kindness to yourself and others. Taking care of you.

new painting posted
this is #607: Grace
link here > www.artsober.com

thanks so much for your support 😉 at one painting per day, that’s enough to keep the lights on …

see this new painting here > www.artsober.com

~ hugs from me (and him)

 

we’re used to taking care of ourselves

email from apprentice dale: “There is something zen about letting go, just accepting that instead of the busiest month we’ve ever had at work, this May will likely be income-less … [and that by being closed], we can say that during this time we did our best and we did our part.
I was thinking today that sober people are well prepared for situations like this. We’re used to staying home while people go out to bars late at night. We’re used to dealing with uncomfortable feelings and letting them pass.  We’re used to telling ourselves to stay in the present and not make ourselves crazy thinking about a future that isn’t here yet.  We’re used to the idea that we will feel differently in 2, 10, 30 days than we do from today. We’re used to distinguishing between the shit we can change and the shit that we can’t. We’re used to taking care of ourselves no matter what is going on around us. I’ve been wondering why I’ve been feeling more zen when so many people whose lives will be less impacted than mine are freaking out — and I think it’s because I’ve been training for this for a while now, I just didn’t know it :)”

 

~

Grace when times are hard. Kindness to yourself and others. Taking care of you.

new painting posted
this is #602: Grace
link here > www.artsober.com

thanks so much for your support 😉 at one painting per day, that’s enough to keep the lights on …

see this new painting here > www.artsober.com

~ hugs from me (and him)

 

I can control what I do today to help myself

email from MelMel (day16):

“Hi Belle, I feel a bit better this morning. I figure it’s all like this COVID-19 – I don’t have any control over it. But I DO have control over myself.  I can’t control what damage I’ve done already with my drinking, but I can control what I do today to help myself. The virus is similar to drinking: in order to assure these two things don’t kill me, I will follow the experts which includes WHO, the CDC, and Belle. The guidelines and sober advice. The government rules and 100 days no alcohol. I will also follow  the precautions and being aware of prelapse. These are the things I can control  in order to keep the virus and booze away from me. I will immediately reach out should I feel sick or the need to drink. I will take this time to mend my body and calm my mind. I will remind myself that thinking about doomsday catastrophic events that have not happened, are not helpful to me or anyone. I certainly wouldn’t go to a place where I know the virus would  infect me, just as certainly I wont go and consume alcohol with the intent to infect me. That’s my ‘everything is like everything’ for today! Ha!!”

[update: she’s on day 29 today]

~

Grace when times are hard. Kindness to yourself and others. Taking care of you.

new painting posted
this is #602: Grace
link here > www.artsober.com

thanks so much for your support 😉 at one painting per day, that’s enough to keep the lights on …

see this new painting here > www.artsober.com

~ hugs from me (and him)

 

omm356.Eliminate

so if you’re feeling wacky and wound up, especially in times like this, then what can you ELIMINATE that’ll make you feel better? alcohol, for sure, but what else? i share some suggestions in this one-minute message.

you can listen below. nothing to download. just press play 🙂

hugs from me xo

i’m fine, i’m fine, i’m fine, i’m tired…

From Monday, March 23, 2020, sent out as a daily email to free email subscribers.

no comparing… 

so here’s how my mood goes:
i’m fine
i’m fine
i’m fine
then all of a sudden i’m tired

i’m sleeping 10-11 hrs a night, which i know is a sign that my subconscious is continuously busy processing stuff. you too?

my catering work has all stopped now, as has Job #1, and husband’s work has stopped. but the sober world still turns 🙂

one thing i’m realizing, too, and maybe you’re feeling this, is that my mood is ‘good’ until something irritating happens, or flattening, or even marginally hard, and then i’m squished flat for longer, like 2-3 hrs, and THEN I bounce back up again.

we’re resilient but still need to allow time for bounce-back.

for example, this morning i got up and my husband presented me with the news headlines without me asking, and i had only been awake for 3 minutes. He tells me that the canadian olympians will not be travelling to the olympics this summer. now this is totally irrational and nonsensical of me, but it seemed extra depressing that it was the canadians who did this first. i said to husband, “why do they have to do this first? why can’t it be italy who says it first?” (as if who says it first really matters.)

When i know that canada/usa aren’t in the exact level of lockdown that we’re in, AND they’are already taking such definitive steps — i don’t know, it felt more real. so i said to husband: no more news unless i ASK for it, and never first thing in the morning.

i also realize that you and me, we’re working on being kind to ourselves as we face things in REAL time.

i can’t say “oh i’ll think about the olympics later,” i have to have that emotion now, so that i can be ready for what comes next. (i did read a bit more about it, felt better afterwards.)

when we’re sober we do emotions in REAL time. we do them as they come up.

because really, who wants to homeschool their 3 kids with no notice? no one. and then we do.
who wants to have their adult kids at home while they’re trying to sell a house and job hunt at the same time? no one. and then we do.

and in the ‘kindness’ category, i realize that i only have so much bandwidth each day. i saw that another sober writer was hosting live group zoom calls DAILY, and i thought, “well i should be doing that too,” but then felt too tired last week.

then i realized: i’m emailing people 3-4 hours a day, helping everyone with adjustments. no wonder she has energy to do a live show EVERY DAY while dealing with her own adjustments: she’s not a sober penpal. 

so since i have this unique life where I am a penpal to about 75 or 80 people at a time, and this work doesn’t stop for the corona virus, then for now my focus is (a) taking care of me, and (b) taking care on my penpals.

everything else comes after that 🙂

Because really, when does comparing myself to other sober writers ever help us? we all suffer from this comparion thing, right? What we need to remember (you and me, both), is that she’s doing her thing, and i’m doing mine. i can’t be her. and there’s nobody else in the world doing what i’m doing, so i can’t compare myself to anyone 🙂

after the news dump this morning, i went out for my run (sunny, cold, 3C), and went to the frozen food store and discovered they’re having their once-a-year special on imported American food, and that they finally have the best ever macaroni and cheese in stock (made with the best cheese from pike place market in seattle). I got two boxes, and THIS is my treat for today, thank you very much! it tastes like ‘home’ to me 🙂

you? you working on being kind to you? hugs

~

You’re ready for something new. Exit the booze elevator. This is the time. Get out and stay out. Look for the sign.

new painting posted
this is #596
link here > www.artsober.com

thanks so much for your support 😉 at one painting per day, that’s enough to keep the lights on …

see this new painting here > www.artsober.com

~

hugs from me (and him)

 

 

kindness & patience

lots of k&p
(kindness & patience)

“Belle, I live in a part of NY that is in the heart of all the commotion. I’m seeing amazing acts of kindness, communities coming together to support one another and families just doing the best they can. But I’m also seeing stress and overwhelm and lots of ‘thank god for wine’ kind of social media posts. It’s now more than ever that we have to take care of our sober selves, so that we can take care of our friends and families in kind. So thank you for the support.”

“Your audios are a breath of fresh air. Literally as I walk my dogs on the cold Chicago sun. Listening to you calms me down as everyone else in the US is going crazy. It’s hard to find a voice of reason in all this, my husband thinks it’s fine for his brother to fly here for Easter in 2 weeks, I said no way, we have 2 kids and they just closed restaurants and bars here in [our state] … walking and listening to you keeps me from screaming at the world to calm the fuck down. It’s scary as hell, but what’s scarier is people hoarding food and toilet paper and acting foolish. I hope the kindness you spoke of happens sooner than later. I am reading a book today and then eating popcorn. you mentioned popcorn and that sounds good. Maybe I’ll watch a silly movie with my daughter and hope my husband forgives me. But I will not drink. Thank you for your daily words. I look forward to tomorrow’s message.”

“But for some reason today your email really struck a chord. Kindness and patience everyday – no matter if there is a virus or not. People having their own issues which makes them want to correct others (how to deliver a work project, stacking the dishwasher, on social media) – wow, never looked at it like that. People are doing the best they can – choose K&P and recognise it’s just our opinion that they are wrong – lord I need to hear this every day! Other people’s reactions are not going to move you out of your camp and into theirs. So powerful. Love the way this helps me see it as a conscious choice, choose a camp and stay there, don’t be halfy-half or be coaxed out. Thanks for continuing to send these xx”

~

perhaps now more than ever, we want something to share
small Quarter paintings, small budget
each quarter painting about 15 x 21 cm (6″ x 8.25″)
got notice again today from the post office that mail continues to work as normal 🙂
link here > www.artsober.com

stay = stay here. stay sober. stay focussed on today.