email from Sober in Seattle (day 210): “I relate to your penpal who said: ‘I have never used…support…i have never consistently reached out to another person…’ — not just for sobriety, but for anything. I am 54, and my whole life i have tried to tread very gently through the planet, asking little from anyone, because i don’t want to be reminded of my childhood, where all need was an admission of weakness, and any request for help would be turned down.
Of course there are a hundred million ways every day that I depend on other people. The farmers who grow my food, the writers who create the books i read and shows i watch, the folks who maintain my car and my apartment building, the police and fire and emergency responders who make my world as safe as it can be. But none of this help requires me asking for something, me putting myself out there to get what i need.
I have not written emails every day of my sobriety to my sober pen pals (Belle and Apprentice Elise), not because i am trying to hide anything, or because i don’t have time, but because i have a habit cultivated over 50 years of not reaching out to people. Not asking for anything. Not being vulnerable.”
[update: she’s on day 229 today]
stay here bracelet stay sober. stay focussed. just do today. stay here. 14 karat gold. mailed from france. complete with sober superpowers. link
first i want to say thanks. for all of the things. for being here, opening emails, listening to audios.
we’ve been going through a weird time, haven’t we? today is day 55 of full lockdown for paris, and we have 3 more days to go until the duck pond, a walk outside the neighbourhood, and being able to open the front door without paperwork to prove where we’re going.
during this weird time, you have struggled with pressures, you’ve had more than your share of anxiety, and in some cases you’ve seen illness and death first-hand (covid, suicide, alcohol-related, in-laws).
every morning i get up and i check my email to see how you’re doing. to see if you got the treat you said you were going to (take-out quiche!), or if you made the virgin lime drink for may 5th, or ordered the candle.
i have to say that after the first week or so, my inbox has settled down remarkably well. there were some large moments of ‘what the fuck’ (yeah, me too!), but we are a resilient bunch. we show up. we are learning to experience emotions in real time.
With all of the opportunities you have had to unsubscribe from sober support (who’s got time for self-care during a pandemic!, you might ask), you did NOT unsubscribe. you’re here.
it’s been so great to see the lovely and continued support for the sober art that i share in the daily emails. i haven’t talked much about how mr.belle has been dealing with the confinement as it’s not my story to tell. he’s a bit more nervous about health things than i am, and has really been missing his concerts and seeing his ‘concert friends’ (he’s usually out 4 nights a week). his motivation, to begin, wasn’t great. go to work every day, come home, go to bed.
and then the paintings started to sell again. we’ve been selling on average one painting per day. isn’t that amazing?
he paints and shows me what he’s done and i pick the ones i like. i photograph, upload, edit, and create the button to purchase. you open the emails, click the links, pick the paintings that want. then he varnishes them.
over time we run out of canvases, and then run out of frames. he’s out of white paint. then black. And then the complete tragedy of running out of cardboard for shipping because the fridge store is closed. We order more canvases, more frames, and we break down and BUY cardboard for shipping 🙂
and still the paintings are going out, one per day. we ran out of regular paintings, and so i posted other framed ones, like the lemon one, or the starbucks ones, and they sold. he produces a set of 10 journals with painted covers, and i’m in the process of posting those.
every day he makes a box, or paints something, and goes up and down the stairs to the studio. every day even weekends.
every day we talk about what to do first (this one has been waiting longer, so it should be varnished first, this one is in oil so will take 4 weeks to dry). i know that art doesn’t make up for missing concerts, but let me tell you, it’s close! it’s art at home 🙂
so when i show up every day, and you ask how i’m doing, and you’re worried about me, you have no idea how ‘good’ things are for me. for us. really. Paris is fully locked-down, more than most places. and we’re fine. i’m emailing and editing audios and making lime cheesecake (that was today’s project). today he made 4 boxes (at 45 minutes each), then i printed the courier labels, then he went to the post office and waited in line for an hour to hand them over (they were prepaid, that’s just how long the line takes to advance in the line). then he came home and went back upstairs to continue.
motivation is hard to find in a pandemic. sleep is erratic. concentration is fractured. our brains are busy processing even when our bodies are still. it’s tiring 🙂
and every single day you show up and support us. and i just want you to know that it doesn’t go unnoticed 😉
i’m happy to be here, doing this. supporting you. you supporting us. anyway, just wanted to say thanks and now i’ve written a book!
many many hugs from me (and him). the non-contagious kind. the best kind. love, me
this is #614
if booze is an elevator that only goes down, then you want to exit; now would be a good time
Particulars: Acrylic & ink on paper. Dimensions: 30 x 42 cm (11.75″ x 16.75″) – this is standard sized A3 paper and will fit in an A3 frame from amazon.com
Shipping: Mailed flat with 3 sheets of stiff cardboard (carton) so that it doesn’t bend in the mail. Mailed direct to you from France.
Original or print? Original paintings, so there is only ONE available.
I’m going to say some things that you know are true, but that you have perhaps not thought about in this exact way.
The problem with the moderation thinking is: If we could do it, we’d already be doing it. We wouldn’t be here reading this. I wouldn’t have quit drinking at all, frankly, if I’d have been able to drink only at Easter and Christmas and special occasions, or only on weekends, or whatever the rules.
You may not have called it moderation.
You might email me and say, “But Belle, I never tried moderation. Maybe I should go try that now, I’ll be right back …”
And I’ll say, “That’s what you’ve been trying. You just didn’t CALL it moderation.” If you are alternating drinks with water, trying to slow down — if you make rules with yourself (only on Thursdays, only on Fridays, only on special occasions) …
this means that you’re trying to contain it.
You’re trying to contain something uncontainable.
“Maybe if I only drink bad alcohol, then I won’t crave it as much. Maybe if I only buy expensive stuff.”
You’ve tried this.
I tried this.
I remember once I bought a case of wine, mistakingly thinking that if there was more around, then I wouldn’t obsess about it. I thought my obsession about ‘running out’ was about quantity. I didn’t realize that it had to do with wanting to drink in every available moment, from the second I was ‘allowed’ to drink (when was I allowed? well, at wine-o-clock, some days it was 6 pm, or 8 pm, or when on vacation or Christmas morning it could be 10 am) – I was waiting to drink. And I was always trying to make rules on how to navigate all that.
[this is extracted from lesson 2 of the 5-part Exit → Exist audio series, you know: Exit the booze elevator so you can Exist. all you have to do is sign up and you’ll get the first audio right away. thanks to donations, three-quarters of the price has been covered for you, so this series of audios is $10 US. one payment. not recurring. nothing weird. just 5 audios for you. yes, that’s my voice. you’ll hear me — talking directly to you. Sign up here.]
One New Journal Each Day for 10 Days
spiral journal, 100 pages/50 sheets 6″ x 8.5″ (14,8 x 21 cm) front cover hand-painted in acrylic mailed in a padded envelope from France
R: “Hi Belle, listening to the first audio lesson [in the Exit → Exist lessons] and I was just blown away. It was like you were speaking directly to me. You always say ‘you’re not alone’ but listening to this really made it sink in that I’m not the only one! There are other people out there sitting on the sidelines wishing they could do this sober thing too, watching, lurking, listening. I wish I could be happy sitting on the sidelines but I’m not happy there/here. Then in the second lesson, explaining how I lower my expectations to match the amount of alcohol and that I can’t count on myself and I’m always letting myself down — wow just wow. Thank you for this. I’m on day 6 today.”
C: “Hi Belle — I just listened to this and was gobsmacked at how your drinking experience matches mine: needing more wine in the house, not making plans because it cuts into drinking time, expecting a ‘bottom’ that will be the thing to make me stop. It was like you’ve been living with me. I was relieved to hear that these patterns, expectations, etc. are common and that I’m not alone. I feel like I can approach getting sober with less self-blame, beating myself up, etc. This was all news to me so thank you, thank you, thank you!”
R2: “Read that is is a noreply email so I’m going to see if it doesn’t go through before I begin … OK then, well I must say I am impressed. I like very much what you say and how you say it. Your voice is soothing and confident as well. No bullshit, you get to the point, you are clearly well versed in what you speak about. Thank and well done my dear. Seriously. While I am far from new, I am new to this kind of internet support thing. I used to live in the US, ride my motorcycle up and down hills wearing Italian heels but now I’m older and overseas … I only mention me to indicate that I have been around a while and believe I know quality when I see or hear it. Thank you again I think you are doing a seriously important work, but then you already know that.”
from me: i have a 5-part Exit → Exist audio series, you know: Exit the booze elevator so you can Exist. all you have to do is sign up and you’ll get the first audio right away.
thanks to donations, three-quarters of the price has been covered for you, so this series of audios is $10 US. one payment. not recurring. nothing weird. just 5 audios for you. yes, that’s my voice. you’ll hear me — talking directly to you.
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?
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.…
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 🙂
this is an extract from the live show i recorded on monday about managing our MOOD when sober. the full episode is being sent to podcast subscribers today and tomorrow.
from N: “I missed the live show – would love to catch up with it but I’m not currently subscribed to the podcasts. Is this something you might put up as a stand alone purchase?”
me: 🙂 well the live show was 2 hrs long, and so will be split into 3-4 podcasts. it might be cheaper to be a podcast subscriber than get them as singles. a subscription would give you 8-ish audios in a month and the subscription is only $26.21/month versus the stand alone price of $5 each (x 8 = $40) … huglets
update from yesterday’s email When I sent out the email inviting you to read and stay plugged-in to your sober stuff, here are some of the replies:
My sobriety is important. I am important. Doing this one small thing every day keeps me motivated. Some days they help more than others. Some days, I think I am fine and I don’t need any help. But even then, the help never hurts. Other days, I find there is something in your message that turned out to be exactly what I needed to hear at that moment. Thank you for doing what you do, it helps many more than I think you realize.
I pledge to open every email from you and click on a link in each email between now and January 2. Because drifting is dumb … I’m going to remember that in terms of my sobriety the only thing that’ll change is my location during the holidays, so I do just the same things while I’m away as I do at home – all my sober supports and treats.
I am on day 2 and doing ok … I’m also caregiver to our 33-year-old daughter who has Cerebral Palsy. Stressful, so I’ve been drinking too much. Need to stop for her. Your daily inspiration really helps. Thanks for your unique insight and humor.
I will open every email you send with gratitude, from now until Jan 2nd, because it is fucking amazing knowing that someone cares enough about me to send daily emails, with links to sober supports. I will click on the links to those sober supports too, even if I don’t buy anything. Because I want you to know I appreciate you and I appreciate you reaching out to me by emails, I need these emails to remind me that what I’m doing is important.
I pledge to not only open but also read every line of every sober email that you send to me between now and January 2nd, 2039. If Belle cares enough to take the time to send them, then Heather will care enough to set up an alert on my phone with a special Belle ringtone alert when an email arrives from you. I will open and read your sober emails, not just preview them on my phone because there is no point in just previewing them, I wouldn’t see the whole encouragement and strength message that may come at just the right moment (this whole just the right message at just the right time thing occurs regularly), but also, by just previewing them, it could possibly be used by my bit of drinking head that still exists as an excuse to put snowshoes on and walk 10 miles to the nearest shop that sells booze. I have purchased 2 gig extra data to do this, as I am spending the season alone (dog is invited) in a log cabin in the mountains of North Wales… no wifi within 25 miles of me. I cannot guarantee a signal, but I will walk a maximum of 2 miles to find one- this is my Christmas effort gift to you. I also pledge to click and see where the mysterious link in each email will lead me to, but I cannot promise I will not buy anything. I want to show you Belle that i’m out there, in between the mountains on one side and the sea on the other side of me, relaxing alone, still sober even when I get mad when I will inevitably understand what I have been missing out on for the last 7 years. I’ll open and read your emails and click a link every day between now and January 2nd 2039. There is no reason whatsoever good enough on this fucking earth that I will happen to not be sober, so I am skipping that part of the pledge..but to make you happy, I will promise you that if for some stupid, made-up, idiotic and most likely death inducing reason i happen to not be sober, i will still open and read your emails to me and click on your link that you made an effort to provide everyday. Because I know that drifting from my sober supports is setting myself up on purpose, giving myself a slightly nudged open door to make up an excuse to drink; and not giving this babygirl the self love she deserves, and therefore, i will need to be engaged more. I owe it to myself first and foremost, and to you because of all of your efforts to try to get me to come to your side of the mountain to at least let you know that I’m still here. Still alive. Still sober.
“I have potential when i’m sober” sober art, thanks to mr.belle artsober.com
this is an original painting, so there’s only one copy available. link
I was interviewed for the Iconic Moms podcast on November 23, 2019 by Alex, a very thoughtful. I am happy to be episode #17 on her new-ish show, and I think this interview is a good primer to learning about being sober. As well, I think that Alex is sharing brave things, as you’ll hear in this interview. To listen to other episodes of her show, you can go here.
But I want you to hear the whole audio NOW, even if you’re not a podcast subscriber.
So I’ve loaded the entire audio in the free audio feed (itunes/android).
[ link removed ]
The full audio will be available for 10 days. Go and listen to the first few minutes. Listen in installments. Or get a cup of tea and do it all at once. There’s something in here for you. I’m sure of it.
hugs and happy saturday
Something New (day 140): “Amazing how fast those magnets sell. I feel like it will be like winning a jackpot when one is available. I want one!!!! I particularly like the ones with the aqua color in them. He must be so happy!”
LARGE magnets acrylic & ink, handcut card stock 7.5 x 7.5 cm (3″ x 3″)
Each audio will be 3-5 minutes long. Perfect for a reset, when your brain is running all over the place.
Topics: alternative drinks, how to deal with a fuck-it moment, ‘my sober summer is awesome because …’, dealing with cravings that come out of nowhere triggered by a song/situation/memory, and dealing with triggers books and TV where people are drinking a lot…
Hugs, Belle xo
P.S. If you’re a monthly podcast subscriber,you’ll get a copy of these audios automatically. Not a podcast subscriber? You can do that here if you like. Or just take this one week of audios as a stand-alone thingy.