thursday links

things you may have missed
(you should click every one of these links):

  • audio about how drinking-thinking is different from sober-thinking. and your drinking-thinking is probably going to OBJECT to ideas suggested that have to do with being sober > click link here
  • what if i fail? if you’re afraid to begin, if your wolfie voice is really loud, if you think it’s all gonna suck … then you can watch this facebook video (you don’t have to be signed into FB or like the page to watch it) > click link here
  • when you’re worried about fitting in, and not having the right shoes > click link here
  • i’ve had this tab open in my desktop browser for 4 months, but it’s too expensive to actually buy > click link here
  • i’ve been accused of “selling hope” since 2012. now i’m painting hope. these hope paintings are done by me, not by le husband > hope 16
  • husband’s ‘Exit’ art. if booze is an elevator that only goes down, you get off and you stay off. find the exit, the opening. get out and stay out > mr.belle’s gallery page here

of course it can help

from me:

Look, if you’re not yet continuously sober, you will read my list of suggested sober tools, and you’ll say “that’s very nice, Belle, but I can’t just add “order take-out” to my list of tools and expect it to help.”
Yes, you can. You can because it’s one way of reducing overwhelm.
If we have a bizarre, unfortunate, unforgiving, and heinous combination of a lack of self-soothing techniques, a sensitive disposition, a tendency to be overwhelmed, and a stubborn pride, then yes, giving up making dinner for the first several weeks of being sober CAN help. Of course it can.
Because it all can help.
Every piece is a puzzle piece, fills a hole. Wolfie is standing at the door, waiting to huff and puff. He’s looking for gaps around the window.
Ordering dinner, or asking your teenager to make jarred sauce with fresh pasta, or asking your 10 year old to make toaster waffles and Cheerios – yes, this can help.
Let’s dissect this.
You ask your kids to make dinner. “Mummy has been doing a lot and she needs a bit of a vacation. And it’s time for you to become more adult, bit by bit, anyway. Kid 1 you’re in charge of Tuesday, and Kid 2 you’re Thursday.”
Now. You’ve asked the kids to make dinner. How does this help with being sober?
     You’ve involved other people. You’ve asked for help. You share responsibilities. You know that other people won’t do it as well as you, but so what. You go to bed during this time and listen to a sober audio while Kid 1 (the 10 year old) pours Cheerios on the floor, drags out the vacuum, impresses you with her culinary skills which include slicing a banana onto the cereal.
OK yes, it’s the special banana you were saving for the special cake. But you know what? There are more bananas in the store.
Get over it.


K says: “I think you do a wonderful thing Belle and I LOVE that you started to interfere with Mr B’s paintings!!! That makes me smile! I’ve told my husband that I shall be adding fireflies to his art too very soon. Following a momentary pause, he said… “Oh”  Lol xx”

from me:
add some life, a few oxygen bubbles perhaps, or maybe they’re fireflies, little bursts of brightness.
   s’élever is french for “to go up’ or to rise up, but it’s also a reflexive verb … rise YOURSELF up.


link >

link >

the pattern is actually this

email from Ri:
“Sober today. Day one.
Same pattern repeated this weekend.
40ish days sober … Drink.
I know. I can hear you, Belle. You’re thinking:
‘The pattern is actually this:
Supports & tools.
Podcasts & OMM’s.
Treats & emails.
Celebrate 30 days sober!
Stop reaching out for support.
No need for tools & treats.
Make excuses to miss meetings.
Send fewer emails.


from me:
it was a very strange weekend, where i took one of my husband’s paintings and said “i want to add some life to this, some sparkle.” I did use the word effervescence but he didn’t know what that meant (and i didn’t know how to say it in french). i said “signs of life, little bubbles like deep sea diving.”
and it takes a very patient man, to let his wife DRAW on his paintings. and then she makes tee-hee noises, and posts the painting, and people comment. and then she gloats about being a genius. and he is amused but not convinced. and then she does it again.

BP: “Love it! I see pops of unexpected, just like being sober — those moments, new thoughts, new ways to live that just show up and you’re like wow, yes!!”

Sarita: “I LOVE it! I see little oxygen bubbles rising up — coming back to life!”

link >

link >

i have the choice to listen or not

email from Lars: “Yes, day 17! I realized today that it’s my special lady time, so no wonder I’ve felt weird for a couple days! It’s funny how oblivious I can be at times. I had some real pangs yesterday, but I went for a walk, made dinner, and played cards with my beau and through all those steps I lost those pangs to drink. I keep making deals with myself, ‘after 100 days you can, but until then you are not drinking.’ I want to complete your challenge, and if I decide drinking is what I want after that, then fine, I can reassess then.

I feel a bit directionless today, though there isn’t any logical reason to. I’m getting used to having these illogical thoughts come up, and I’m practicing dismissing them. Why do we tell ourselves all kinds of harmful lies? It isn’t helpful. I’m realizing I have the choice to listen to them or not. This whole dealing with real life thing feels a bit strange, but it’s really empowering. I have conversations with my guy, those tough and weighted conversations that used to always end in pointless arguments, and when I have my wits about me I don’t get upset over things that I used to. I’ve been such a burdened and burdensome person to live with for so long, it feels good to not have to worry about the small stuff (that would inevitably get blown out of proportion). I get to enjoy my life now, and I get to enrich others lives, too. Even on a low-energy day like today, I’ll take that reality over a hazy one any day! -Lars”

[update: she’s on day 721 today]

from me:
the story starts like this:
i says to him, i says: “can i paint on your painting?”
“cuz i think it’s too dark and it needs some hope and effervescence.”
he doesn’t know what effervescence means (i’m speaking in english, and i don’t know the french word). so i say, “tonic bubbles? hope? signs of life?”
Or maybe you see fireflies…
Anyway, this was our first ‘joint’ painting, which is to say i took it and painted on it and he didn’t kill me …
what must it be like to be married to me.
i’m certain that this will work, i tell him. i’m certain that the mixture of both our ideas will add more layers. there’s strength and hope in the same painting. he nods. he’s not sure. i am sure. i’m sure someone will buy it today, i say. which isn’t about the money, of course, it’s about me being right. which is more important … did i mention how much fun it must be to be married to me? your ideas welcomed. do you see snow, tonic bubbles, signs of life (deep sea diving), or little peeps of fireflies? so then painting #457 with the little fireflies / bubbles is purchased, and heading off to Minneapolis on Monday.
I say to mr.b, “see, i’m a genius.”
and he’s like, “not really…  you’re a genius in other ways, but not in this way.”
and i’m like, “yes i am. i’ll prove it. i’ll take one of the paintings that’s been on the site for 3 weeks and i’ll firefly-it-up. and then you’ll see.”
he made me a cup of decaf, patted me on the head, and said, “at least you’re having fun.”
(this is how we entertain ourselves on saturday afternoons. i made chocolate cake with homemade cherry sauce, he cleaned his studio. we had a nap. then i add signs of life to his paintings …)

BP: “Love it! I see pops of unexpected, just like being sober — those moments, new thoughts, new ways to live that just show up and you’re like wow, yes!!”

Sarita: “I LOVE it! I see little oxygen bubbles rising up — coming back to life!”

link >

link >

that’s what addiction is. it’s a head that lies to us.

from my inbox:

bluesparkles (day 0):  “FUCK I hear you Belle. It just seems so damn boring and exhausting without the buzz of wine to keep the night going. I don’t know what to do instead. I mean, I do, and i’ve done it, but I’ve forgotten the past few weeks since i’ve been back at school and it’s ramped up the tension and need for release. I am so goddamn sick of thinking about it.
Belle, if I could tell you all the things that are running through my mind every day with school, the three kids, my job which is filled with children, colleagues, the new fire pit in our backyard so my hubby and i can enjoy a date night at home since we don’t have any damn help – well firepits don’t seem that fun with just coffee and creamer. I bought decaf coffee and creamer just for that reason, but it’s more fun with wine. and I hate that. Hate hate hate. I can do a trillion strong ass things, give birth, deal with marriage stuff, family serious health things, I don’t want to deal with one more damn thing – i.e. giving up something that relaxes me. does that make sense? I feel like your response is going to be unintentionally condescending because it’s just not that easy to find other sober supports and treats in the midst of life.”

me: I know that I will be unintentionally condescending when I say that you being sober is a big deal, for you, for the kids, and for feeling proud of yourself. if you’re missing out on a ‘buzz’ then yes, you can find it in other ways. you’re here [reading this, emailing] because on some level you know that you’re drinking more than you want to be. it’s not easy to find sober supports. but I’m here, and you can be emailing me 4 times a day. you could listen to the audios and set up calls with me. you have a voice in your head that tells you that alcohol makes things better. that’s what addiction is. it’s a head that lies to us. and on some level you know this. that’s why you’re emailing me. to ask me to say this. so I will 🙂 hugs


​you enter into a new space, a new phase of life.
you go into new territory.
you enter a new you 🙂



if you’re happy, then something’s wrong

from my inbox:

zenmeg: “I am very good. Thanks for checking in. I have been benefiting from a recent sober revelation – an old hobby. Knitting has burst back into my life like a long lost friend. So good to be reunited again … i am reveling in how lovely it feels to be happy as pie and not feel the urge to drink away that happiness. Being happy and staying happy and learning how to be comfortable with sheer happiness has been a BIG part of me embracing sobriety.  I think I was raised with some sort of underlying vibe of “if you’re happy, then something’s wrong.” I remember having a conversation with my mom where we were scoffing at people who seemed carefree and happy – saying there must be something wrong with them or that they’re not taking life seriously enough. My mom was the eldest of 7 kids and her parents were alcoholics. She pretty much raised her siblings and never got a chance to live her own life or acknowledge her own feelings or even learn how to feel; she’s never been to therapy to deal with all the crap that has been hanging on her since her childhood. So surely she has passed some of her baggage onto me. Thankfully I’ve seen a few different therapists over the years. So this happiness thing is fabulous. I even cry sometimes b/c I am so happy.

How are you? Love reading your emails and blogs and anything you send out. You’re on to something here. Wait until Oprah hears about you.”




NEW – Where are they now? Sober support paintings …

North Carolina






New Jersey

The train was like a zoo without containment, running wild.

from my inbox:

A: “I’m on day 17 today, I went out to xx with my husband to watch a show at the theatre. The evening was jam packed full of triggers for me – a child-free evening out, a trip on the train with a buffet car, a venue with a bar, an interval promoting time to drink and people everywhere holding drinks … I held a bottle of water.

My senses were on high alert and in that moment my Wolfie was saying ‘why can’t you do what these people are doing? Why shouldn’t you? You deserve it, just because you drink tonight doesn’t mean you will drink tomorrow. Go on, let your hair down!
It didn’t spoil my night but it was definitely with me throughout the event. This was, until the moment we reached the train station to return home.

Suddenly I was on the other side of ‘it’, like some kind of parallel world switch had been struck. What is the ‘it’ that I was in the otherwise of? Well the station and train was packed with drunk people. People swaying, slurring, shouting and obliterated through drink. People who were looking for trouble. Girls hardly dressed and throwing up, phones everywhere. People taking selfie after selfie whilst pouting or kissing strangers. There were elongated over-pitched shrieks and bodies falling in the aisles.
The train was like a zoo without containment, running wild. I could not believe what I was seeing and hearing and then realisation dawned; this was me in the past … I definitely remember behaving that way and not giving a shit who saw me and I never gave a thought that my drunken behaviour might be a tad excessive.

…The point I’m trying to make is this unruly zoo on the 22:02 train from xx were all symptoms of much much deeper issues for each and every single person on that train. I felt I could see inside some of them. Their despair, self loathing, lack of self compassion and care; and for me it was a lightbulb moment. I thanked goodness that I didn’t give in to Wolfie on that night. I could hold my head high, I felt proud of myself and oh so grateful that I was not that person anymore and I didn’t have to wake up with the hangover, the remorse, the empty purse, the shame or embarrassment.

So the next time my Wolfie pipes up I’m going to try to conjure the image of that wild zoo and remind myself that they are the reason why I’m on the right tracks.

This was my first sober night out in years. It was hard but if I can do it, anyone can.

Thanks for listening, A.”



NEW – Where are they now? Sober support paintings …

British Columbia
North Carolina
New Jersey

You will never change; I must change.

from my inbox:

W: “As soon as I started looking at quitting drinking like ending a toxic relationship, all of a sudden I was back in familiar territory (um, yay?) and had a whole arsenal of tools to use (yes, yay!).

  • Yes, there is good between us.  But it will always be outweighed by the bad.
  • Yes, we have history.  But what we have is no longer healthy, so I am choosing a different future.
  • Yes, for a long time I turned to you as my safety blanket.  But that “safety” kept me down, and kept me from growing. I need to grow more than I need that safety blanket.
  • Yes, you want to go back to the good old times when everything felt ok. But you are a one-trick pony, and I am not. You will never change; I must change.
  • Yes, you want us to keep trying. But I cannot live this life, or lie to myself, any more. I refuse to stay miserable just to keep you happy. So I am leaving.
  • Yes, you will call, and text, and write, and cry, and plead, and threaten, and sulk. And I may have compassion, as for a scared 2 year old, but I will still say nope, no, nuh-uh, not happening, buh-bye, go away, too bad.
  • You’ll be ok on your own, Wolfie.  You don’t need me any more.

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”  -Anais Nin

huglets, W
Day onehundredfreakinfortyseven!! 😀
(I never, never, never in my wildest dreams, when I was down in that tar pit, ever imagined I’d actually get here. I feel like a swamp leech that woke up one day as a hummingbird…kinda like WT holy F WOW how’d that happen?!!!)  (thank you 🙂 )”


NEW – Where are they now?

British Columbia
North Carolina
available at auction ($21)
New Jersey

does doing what’s right even matter?

from my inbox:

JK: “Hi Belle: I have a sister who is three years younger than me … She is very popular and social. I am ummmm — not that. I went to college; she did not. She married at 21; I married at 31. Although we are different, we are friends and quite close. Beth’s life is not as stable as my life. She and her husband do not make as much money; two of her three kids struggle in school; she and her husband do not have good financial skills — lots of phones being shut off, credit card debt, and they actually just left their house one day and moved somewhere else. I’m sure it ended up in foreclosure. My divorced parents continue to support her and her children financially, and they try to hide it from me. … They have paid for nothing for me ever in my life since I went to college at 18 (which they did not pay for). …

I try to be happy that our family is honest and independent and teaching our two children important and positive life lessons BUT I’m upset, and it’s not fair, and I’m 43, and my sister is 40, and it continues to happen over and over. My dad has been sober for 13 years, and he is actually one of the reasons that I thought quitting drinking would be good idea, and he has been so supportive. I texted him today and said Beth just shared that you were paying for their trip to Florida. Ten minutes later, he wrote: Shit happens.

I’m a little in shock and so upset, and I want to drink because it sucks, and why the hell am I even trying to do anything right because it doesn’t even matter. My sister has done some of the stupidest shit in her life, and she continues to get bailed out! Also, I know my dad would be disappointed if I started to drink again, and I kind of want to just to piss him off because really Fuck You…

I’m not going to drink, but I’m pissed that guzzling alcohol is my first thought. Then, I wonder: Does doing what’s right even matter? I guess I want some type of reward. Like here’s a vacation for consistently making good choices. I don’t even know what I want actually. Some type of sign that I’m doing what’s right.”

me: ok. you can delete this message from me after you read it and you can hate me. but here goes.

     There is no ‘fair’ with siblings. interpersonal relationships are complicated and there is no score card of ‘you get this and she gets that’. If your parents give your sister stuff it’s because (a) she’s got issues, and they’re worried about her and the grandkids and (b) they feel guilty that she’s got issues; they believe they did something wrong by her.

nothing to do with you.

someone gets a promotion, you don’t, nothing to do with you.

someone gets money, you don’t, nothing to do with you.

you don’t want their fucking money because it would come with strings and expectations and demands and implied criticism and control. if you were your sister, I’d be suggesting that you turn down their money and take care of yourself. which is what YOU are doing. you are taking care of you and what your sister does or doesn’t do has NOTHING to do with you and your husband. this is your family now. your family is the little cool one you built around you.

you don’t email your father and say ‘what about me’. instead, you feel sorry for your sister. she’s got stuff that’s fucked up and everyone knows it. including her. she’s probably super jealous of you. even if she’s loud and you’re not. you have your shit together. AND you’re sober 🙂 you fucking rock. is that enough swearing?
love 🙂 and hugs,  me

JK: “Hi Belle: I cried when I read this message; I’m going to print it out and carry it with me and read it all the time. You absolutely nailed it; are you sure that you don’t know me in person? I want to say more, but I don’t know how to say the words. Thank you; I felt validated, yet I also understood how it’s not about me. Also, on a drinking note: totally not drinking.


shameless commercial link. i don’t think these links work any more. no one clicks on them. nobody gives a shit about links or clicking or shameless shit. maybe these shameless commercial links should be shame-full commercial links. links to shameful stuff like porn. How about this link? you did it, right? you clicked on the porn link… ok, how about this one then.

lunch. toasted sesame bagel, fancy mustard, turkey that actually tastes like turkey, some kind of original pickle, and iced coffee 🙂 from paysan bread (bagel) and remedy coffee, two places located side by side, and you can eat your bagel in the coffee store. they’re nice like that.

(knoxville tennessee; thanks to Gem64 via the tiny gift fund)

I went straight back to my old ways

email from L (sent on a monday): “Hi Belle, feeling very sad with myself today as on Thursday I celebrated getting to 100 days. I then decided and really believed that I could try moderation. On Thursday itself I had one glass of red poison and thought, yes I can do it.

But with no rules, no 100 days anymore, I was like a wild horse with devilment in me so by Saturday I was overexcited about my night out. I went STRAIGHT back to my old ways: 3 pints of beer, 2 massive wines, another beer, vodka, red wine then I even went more downhill and did another substance that was on offer … I would never have done that if I was sober. Thank fuck there were no random men issues this time. Went to sleep 6am Sunday morning. Still feel like shit tonight Monday 9:40 pm. My anxiety is sky high, I have had to cancel everything and lie to everyone that I have a migraine. I’m scared to go shopping.
So that was just great.

However, now I’m going to start again cos I know I can do it. But this time I’m doing until the end of this year, and beyond. If one good thing can come out of my terrible behaviour it’s that I’m more determined and certain that I don’t drink anymore. Not a little bit. None.

Do a lot of people make the decision to try moderation after the 100 days and then end up like me?”



two FB live videos from May 8th …  one about self-soothing with netflix, the other about misplaced gin at 11:30 a.m.


travelling. photo taken on the tiny 29 minute flight from atlanta to knoxville, TN. The clouds look very ‘close’ and free-standing.


shameless commercial link: bonus photo of Paris being mailed to podcast subscribers in May. you can go do that now.