most popular videos

I’ve been recording Facebook Live videos, just about daily, since January.
and in the last couple of weeks, these ones have gotten more responses than others (who knows why!).

“I Needed Permission to Begin” > LINK

“I Was on the Phone with Facebook Today” > LINK

and this one recorded in Nashville about how being sober is like driving in the rain:
“How Long Until You Get Used To It?” > LINK

Facebook is not private, though, so you may want to decide if you’d like to “like” or leave a comment on the videos.


emergency tool: bed

things i know about me.

highly sensitive, i hear everything, my tags itch. i sleep badly. i get carsick. milk makes my stomach gurgly (that word isn’t spell-checking and i don’t know why). feel a lot of emotions strongly.

and i need ways to turn this off.

i need hard-and-fast, guaranteed ways to feel better. which requires a list of different things, because i can’t always ‘run’ when it’s 2 a.m.

but my short list is: run, watch tv in a dark room (must be dark) without distractions, make a jigsaw puzzle, play loud music (must be loud).

and go to bed. fully clothed if required.

bed is my favourite place to hide. it’s the place where I can either distance myself from STUFF, or i can actually sleep.

last night, in bed at 9:05 pm, read until 9:40, lights off, slept until 7:30 am this morning. yes i woke 3 times (once to see that husband wasn’t home from his show yet, once when he came to bed, and once when i was too hot …).

bed. do you know what my plan was for new year’s eve? the way I wanted to ring in the new year? it was to be IN BED (no phones, no laptop, no phone in the room at all – because, reasons) by 8 pm. yes. that was my goal. 8 pm. and i did it.

bed is a good place to hide. it’s a safe place. it’s a snuggle down and just rest place. even if you don’t sleep. but especially if you do.

what is the earliest you can go to bed tonight? i don’t mean “oh belle i can’t go to bed until the laundry, dishes, macrame planter is finished”), i mean as a one-time exception, what time can you go to bed tonight? what is the earliest?

so that you can turn off your head.



there is a short 59 second video tour of this painting at top of the page here.

Hope 14

Hope paintings are done by me (not mr. belle!)


Luckiest Jo: “I have just watched the Hope video. ( Hope 14) In this painting I love the red on the left and that’s what I’m drawn to , it says blood and to me signifies positive and negative, blood of life but also blood that’s lost and means death. In this painting the lines are like the cracks, cracks between what we show the world and what’s inside within us. “



sober maintenance. small. worthwhile.

tiredfrom my inbox:

ohnarn (day 223): “Belle, I was listening to a sober podcast yesterday [NOT one of yours], and the guest is a big believer in AA, and she was talking about how she knows people who had been sober for 20 years and stopped working the program and relapsed. I really hate thinking of over-drinking/alcohol use disorder/whatever you want to call it like that. it seems so dis-empowering to think that we always have to be “on watch” for this “disease” (I don’t think it’s a disease). It just feels like so much effort. Yes, I think we need to have supports, but that sobriety can be taken from us at any moment, and even after 20 years we’re still a slave to this? If that’s the case, then what’s the point? I’m not feeling shaky or anything, but I had to stop listening to the podcast because that message just feels shitty.”

me: from my side of the screen i see it like this: we do need ongoing sober maintenance, but the amount we need is small. but we do have to do it. it may not mean meetings for everyone, but we often do need to be reminded by something external to our own heads that drinking sucks rocks. it’s like a car. it periodically needs gas (your sober car needs gas!). And you can’t fall asleep driving it. nobody gets mad that they can’t just learn to drive the car and then forget about it. you have to be present and take care. it’s your life (the car, sobriety). But the concentration required to drive the car? it’s like 3% concentration on a good-weather day, and 90% on a shitty snowstorm day. we do the 3% sober maintenance happily because it means we get to drive the car. the alternatives are we don’t do the 3%, we take our hands off the wheel, and our sober car drives into oncoming traffic.
because the road isn’t 100% straight, because there are challenges and bumps all the time.
but for me, the 3% maintenance it requires for me to be sober now is not only worth it, it’s a luxury because it means I get to KEEP this whole sober life that I’ve built on top of the foundation of being a non-drinker. to lose that would suck WAY more than a commitment to listening to a (helpful) podcast each day [shall i plug my own lovely podcasts here, or is that shameless?], or that you might email your sober penpal a one-word email every day, or you might be someone who goes to a meeting once a week if that works for you …probably the take-away is ‘don’t drift’. but the actual amount of maintenance required? it’s small. and worthwhile. le hugs le hugs


there is a new 1-minute video of this painting at top of the page here.

Exit 308

Do you see Tulips or do you see Fire? Check out the video.

Emergency Message. Read When Required.

Right this minute you feel like giving up. You feel like it’s not worth it, being sober isn’t going to make you feel any better, you feel like the craving is too strong. Right now you feel like giving up. There’s a voice in your head that tells you that drinking is a good idea (which it isn’t). You have a voice in your head that lies to you and tells you that some of your life problems will be fixed with alcohol (which is not true). In fact some of your life problems will be made worse with alcohol. I wanted to make something that you could read when you are right at a place where things seem particularly difficult, so I could talk some sense into you 🙂 So that I could reach out to you directly. But of course, what I realized is that because you’re here reading this, that means that you don’t want to drink. Because you are here looking for a sober tool to convince you that drinking is not a good idea. You come to this emergency, rescue email, the one with some clever title like “I’m about to drink right now, help,” and I’m going to say that I know that you don’t want to drink because you’re reading this. Because you stopped, and you clicked this message to open it, and you’re here reading it. This is you, listening to somebody telling you, “You know what? You maybe feel like drinking. You may. You may well feel like drinking. I suggest that you wait until tomorrow and see how you feel then. You don’t relapse on a fuck-it moment. You wait and make sure that you’re going to feel like this, that you really feel that this is a real, true, real, real feeling, really, really. Will you feel this way tomorrow? Probably not. And so it would be a terrible, shitty waste to drink today if you’re not going to feel like this tomorrow. So what I suggest Is that you go to tomorrow, and see how you feel then. But I also want to remind you that you being here tells me that you don’t want to drink. And I’ll support that. [listen to this as an audio]

there is a great 1-minute video of this painting at top of the page here.

Special Edition ‘Flag’ Painting

Special edition ‘flag’ painting – Way Out

my chat with Catherine Gray

I had the lovely pleasure of speaking with Catherine Gray last week. She’s penpal #270 and is on day 1,949 today. 

She’s the author of three books ​(no kidding) — two about being sober and one about being single — and I’ll put in the links to her books below. 

We talk about leaving parties early, how to text your friends in advance, and what she might write next (you may be surprised and excited).

​I sent out this podcast today (episode SP283) to podcast subscribers ...

​Here's an extract from our talk, this is the first 3 minutes or so.​​ ​If you'd rather download the entire audio, you can use the link below in the blue box.

Extract from ​Sober Podcast 283. ​Catherine Gray

book links:

The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober >

The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober Journal >

The Unexpected Joy of Being Single >

... and you can find her on instagram @unexpectedjoyof

hugs, belle xo

​Download ​SP283. ​Catherine Gray​

Sign up for the ​podcast membership
(1-2 new full-length audios each ​week, you can cancel whenever you like ... but you won't. more sober tools = good)

​If alcohol is an elevator that only goes down, you can Exit. Get off the elevator, and stay off. Art thanks to Mr. Belle. This is a closeup from painting #586.

bring your sober self into the real world

Girl Named Sam (day 857): “Belle, I am loving these live videos. More tools. With these videos, you are bringing our sober selves into the real world and showing us ‘how to be.’ The monologue in your brain, that you share with us (as you charmingly walk around talking to yourself) is what goes on in my brain too. Love seeing what you see. Proof positive one can live, even in Paris, and be sober. Keep it up and THANK YOU.”

Sober Sass (day 10): “This is awesome Belle, thanks for the visual too, day ten today 💕”

>> Saturday’s live video is here <<


or check out this one, with view from my bedroom window

or this one at the duck pond

or this one at the train station

you do not have to sign up on Facebook to see the live videos. you do not have to like or follow, but if you DO follow, it will send you an announcement when I’m broadcasting live so you can join in.

Duck Ponderings 010 – Small Goals

What happens when we try to fix everything at once? I talk about how I use this in other parts of life (sober + writing + running very slowly). And about how I’m bad with endings, and so this won’t be the last episode. I probably have one or two more to go…




Music: “Acoustic Blues,” thanks to Jason Shaw,

Donations to support these audios and keep them free 🙂

Are you looking for longer sober podcasts?

Sign up for the ​podcast membership
 (1-2 new full-length audios each ​week, you can cancel whenever you like ... but you won't. more sober tools = good)

Duck Ponderings 009 – Vision

In this Duck Ponderings episode I talk about my ‘vision’. ha. as if i have one. Mostly i talk about logistics: how I track penpals, my excel spreadsheet, screen names, marketing, and a (not so) funny story about advertising on Facebook. During this audio, I also record a video which is below. This is literally the busiest day at the park I have ever seen. Ever.



I also recorded a video near the beginning, just to show the numbers of people at the park … video here [click to begin!]:

[evp_embed_video url=””]


Music: “Acoustic Blues,” thanks to Jason Shaw,

Donations to support these audios and keep them free 🙂

Duck Ponderings 005 – The Husband

In this Duck Ponderings episode I talk about husbands. Why don’t i talk about the contents of my marriage, does he resent how much time i spend on the sober things, does he read my sober writing every day as i complete it … and what happens when you don’t have children in terms of the ‘projects’ you create to fill the space.



I also mention a video that i filmed on sunday morning… video here [click to begin!]:

[evp_embed_video url=””]


To see the fiction project that I talk about in this episode, go here:

Music: “Acoustic Blues,” thanks to Jason Shaw,

Donations to support these audios and keep them free 🙂

how would you answer? what do you think I would say?

this is a contest / writing assignment.

  1. read the question below, which is a real one from my inbox.
  2. then imagine you are me, and what MY reply might be. you can pretend to be me.
  3. Winning answer gets an audio bundle worth $150.

your assignment is to write out a 4-5 sentence reply for this email, from my point of view, what might i write as a reply to this.

post your comments below (or send to me in an email)

i have already written my reply. i think this is a cool experiment to not just look at this how YOU might reply, but to imagine how someone else (me) would, too.

even if you’re new to me, and you don’t know what i might do, try it anyway.

and the winner will get an audio bundle worth $150. 

deadline: tomorrow, thursday, around noon eastern.

isn’t this fun? i can’t wait 😉 the last time i did this, the response was fascinating.




Leener (day 88): “sometimes I feel like I’m just half-assing the sober thing, like I’m not really invested in it, or like I’m not thinking about alcohol ENOUGH. Instead I’m just head down about it. Keep my head down, ignore wolfie, go about my day, stay sober. Head down. Or, I’m just wafting along in a sea of sober momentum, pulling out the supports when the water gets a bit choppy. [we’re not even at the metaphor part yet.] Okay, here goes.

Imagine that I’m alone in a room with Wolfie. I think of a one-room mountain cabin. Isolated. Part of me (the perfectionist?) feels that to be really kick ass-this-is-gonna-stick sober, I should be in that room with Wolfie, staring him down, watching him wither away while I dehydrate him. I keep my eye on him, I know his every move, and I can see him getting weaker and weaker.

Most of the time, this is what I’m actually doing: I’m in the room with Wolfie, and I make sure to keep my back to him at all times. I can’t look him in the eyes, I’m too scared of him. I’m not going to let him win, but I’m also not going to peek at him. I’m constantly shuffling around the room to make sure my back is to him, so that I can’t see him. But I know he is there. Since I can’t see him I can’t tell if he is withering away. I can’t see him dehydrated and suffering. For all I know he is looming larger than before, right behind my back. But I keep shuffling around, not daring to look at him, hoping that what I’ve been told is actually true… that even though I can’t see it happening, he is actually getting smaller, and suffering behind my back. Maybe one day I will have the courage to turn about and look at him, but that day is not today.

What do you think? Is the latter version of sober still enough? Any sober is better than not sober, I suppose. We have a call scheduled for next Tuesday. Maybe we can talk about this then.”


What do you think i said to her?