dry july (happy soberversary)

today is canada day. first day of july. it’s moving day in Quebec. it’s a day for fireworks and corn on the cob and watermelon (let me know if you’re having all three). you will have strawberries still in canada, in france we’re into peaches now. today is also my soberversary, not because i wanted my day 1 to coincide with canada day (though i like it!), but because of something called Dry July, a cancer fundraiser based in australia. technically you’re supposed to sign up on their site, let your friends and family know so they can sponsor you, and you give up drinking for a month to raise money. i didn’t do that part. to be fair, i didn’t do any of it except the sober part. I didn’t tell friends, i didn’t even tell my husband. I was too terrified, because my previous longest was 9 days, so going for a whole month seemed impossible. sure, i could have raised a few bucks from my facebook friends, and my generous uncle if i had shared what i was doing … but you know what? i couldn’t share. I couldn’t fundraise. i couldn’t deal with any questions, because i was barely holding on — going to work, not getting fired. that’s it. that’s all i could do to begin. any mild joking on my FB page? i wouldn’t have been able to handle it. i did ask for support online but only from other sober people, and before that moment where i reached out for support i had no faith that it’d even work. i just knew i was stuck. It was day 9 of dry july, when i realized i was going to fail if i didn’t try something else. so here’s my message for today. try different. if today is your day 1, and maybe you’d like to do dry july and we can be soberversary twins, then try different. if what you’ve been trying ins’t working, try something else. if you’ve been ‘waiting for a few clear days on my schedule’ you can try something else. if you’ve been ‘waiting until the vacation and the funeral are over’ then try some else. if you’ve been waiting (for anything), then you begin now and add in new supports. new things. try different. oh and p.s., it’s entirely possible to quit drinking, tell no one, say ‘no thanks it was giving me headaches,’ and go on your way without large declarations. sometimes people like announcements — and you should do you. but me, i liked doing it under the radar. I still do. #dryjuly – that means today is day 1 if you’re not already underway. you’re ready. today’s the same as any other day. it’s a day you don’t drink. hugs xo

send me a picture of your summer fruit – whatever you’re eating today. strawberries, peaches, watermelon? if you’re in tasmania, send me a picture of your lovely root vegetables 🙂 I’ll share some of your photos in my long-weekend emails, today and tomorrow.


my favourite canadian breakfast, photo taken last year when i was in canada having cheerios and fruit from the market. today i’ll be having french granola and peaches 🙂 well, as soon as i drag my lardy ass out to get some peaches! my husband just left for a walk, i gave him cow eyes, but i don’t think he’s buying any for me…

test message for Sunday’s live show

On Sunday, August 6th, I’m going to do a live 2-hour radio show.

In preparation, I turned on my mic and did a test message. I was trying to record a One Minute Message but things went VERY wrong.

Listen now to the little clip about Sunday’s call.


Set your timer.
Sunday August 6th, 2017






August 6th

6 a.m.
8 a.m.

9 a.m.
11 a.m.

2 p.m.
4 p.m.

3 p.m.
5 p.m.

11 p.m.
1 a.m.

When it’s show time, you can listen here > http://mixlr.com/sober-belle/

talk soon,

not everything that is helpful is useful

this is an extract from an email sent to the Everything List (which is the place where i share ‘everything’ including behind the scenes reporting on writing, pictures of my lunch, how writing is like sobriety, and samples of the new fiction project).

from me: i’ve written myself into a corner with the fiction. i’ve closed  the open loops and don’t know what happens next. (this happens.)

but that has led me to “what’s the point in writing fiction anyway,” – and i don’t mean the thing i’m writing, i mean fiction in general. what’s the point of fiction? …

i’m temporarily stuck. i feel like non-fiction is more direct. “how do i deal with a husband who drinks now that i’m sober” versus “here’s a story about a woman with a husband.” maybe the lessons are still there, but maybe the vehicle of delivery is all that changes.

but if the lessons are the same, then why fiction?

i’m sure i’ll be able to write myself back to an answer to this, but today, right here and right now, i’ve lost the plot (hahahahaha). [and if writing is like being sober, then even when you lose the plot, you keep going, because – even as i say it here – i’m sure i’ll be able to find the way if i keep going.]

Quote from this week’s fiction writing:

OK, you’re up. The room – you can’t even look at the room. The hallway – you can’t even look at the hallway, the bookshelf contents on the floor, now walked through repeatedly, how long has it been. Into the kitchen, can’t really look in here, either, something in the pan on the stove, it could have been risotto (really?). You pick up and hold the takeout container close to your face, smell it, afraid, but seems fresh enough, so it probably was dinner last night after all.

It’s weird day when I wake up and it feels like I’m on an archaeological exploration in my own home. What did I do? What did I eat?

You check your phone for sent messages. Scroll …


Mich2point0 sent me this: “That’s just wolfie’S cousin- self doubt creeping in.  She’s a c-nt… kick her ass to the curb Xxoo.”

me: haha. maybe it is!  it’s just that after doing a big live call yesterday, THAT seems more ‘useful’ than fiction…

Mich2: “Lmfao!!!!! Not everything that is helpful is useful. Sometimes. I get fucking tired of self help and all that jazz. Sometimes. I want to disappear into a good book or listen to something fun or funny. Relatable.  You don’t determine what’s useful. That’s a high powers job. You. Just do what you’ve been called to do…”

*your comments make the world go round. add in your thoughts.*

test message for tomorrow’s live show

To celebrate my soberversary, I’m going to do a live 2-hour radio show on Saturday, July 1.

In preparation, I turned on my mic and did a test message, a small clip about the call format, the length, and about the prizes.

Listen now to the little clip explaining tomorrow’s call.


Set your timer.
Saturday, July 1, 2017

July 1st
6:30 a.m.
8:30 a.m. 
9:30 a.m.
11:30 a.m.
2:30 p.m.
4:30 p.m.
3:30 p.m.
5:30 p.m.
11:30 p.m.
1:30 a.m.

When it’s show time, you can listen here > http://mixlr.com/sober-belle/

talk soon,

it’s not all about me

it’s not all about me.

before i make a list of all the ways he’s changed, i can make my own list. top five things i’ve stopped doing in the last 10 years. shaving my legs twice a week. getting my eyebrows done at the salon. making dinner 5 nights a week. packing his lunch. wearing lingerie.

it’s not all about me.

before i get irritated that nobody told me, i can take stock of the reality. not everyone wants an audience when they’re dying. it might have been sudden(er) than it seems. they weren’t thinking of how to exclude me. i haven’t spoken to them for a year. i’m not as close a friend as i thought i was. maybe they were more important to me than i was to them. maybe they didn’t think about me at all, maybe they were dealing with him dying and didn’t send out invitations for everyone to come visit.

it’s not all about me.

those people with their whining child. my god that child cries all the time. we don’t raise them like that in canada. in france they let their kids cry. a lot. often. for hours. even if the neighbours are disturbed, no one says anything. that child isn’t crying on purpose, intending to drive me crazy. her parents don’t know that i have to get up at 5 a.m. to do the baking. (and then when i do get up to make the sandwiches i’m standing in the spare room, which is above their bedroom, so they hear me, i’m sure. no one says anything.)

it’s not all about me. these things are not being done to me. i have a role to play. i sort out my part – all of it – before i start to wonder what’s up with you (or him, or them).



how tiring it must be to be married to us

what must it be like to be married to us, this unique combination of high functioning, high emotion, lots of noise in our heads.

my husband, though he drank as much as I did, does not have a wolfie voice. he is not wound up by things. he doesn’t struggle with “can I, will I, should I, is there more, is this the right amount.”

it must be so tiring for him to be married to me. I may complain about his sloth tendencies and the absolute LACK of obsessing (about anything). but really, he’s dealing with me.

I’ll give you an example.

This is a true story.

My husband is perfectly content to make me a ‘special drink’ at suppertime. if I tell him specifically what I want. and how to make it. why ‘how to make it’? because I keep changing what I want.

(1) Hot chocolate from Marks & Spencer. very yummy. expensive (3,25€ for 10 packages). they have no diet or ‘lite’ option. I only bought one box of the 10 packages.

(2) Then at Christmas, I got Mr. B. a treat for his stocking (which I promptly drank): a box of instant cappuccino powdered things. I drank all of his, and started buying it regularly for myself, the little single servings, 10 to a box. Worked my way up to one or two a day. They were quite weakly flavoured, though, so had to be made in the medium coffee mugs so that there wasn’t too much water added. We have 3 sizes of mugs: large, medium, and small. My husband would make my special coffee for me in the medium cup.

(3) After a few weeks, I moved to a canister of the same powder, instead of the premeasured packages, because it was cheaper (there’s a theme here). Now that I had free reign of the powder, I switched to making a stronger, bigger dose in the large mug. Now it had to be made with 4 teaspoons of the powder with a bit of cream. in the larger mug. there. that’s pretty good. my husband would make it for me.

(4) Another few weeks. it’s too expensive. I’m going through these canisters way too often. I go to the store to buy some diet instant hot chocolate that can be made with hot water.

AND there isn’t any.

France, apparently, is a land of hot cocoa (made with milk, which I don’t drink). it’s all cocoa. no hot chocolate. And not only is there no instant hot chocolate in france, there is no ‘diet’ anything hot and chocolate-y/coffee-y. I can picture the blue canister in my Canadian memory. it was president’s choice brand. I had it all the time. But here? There’s cocoa and sugar in a can you can add hot milk to, but no instant hot chocolate.

I consider leaving the country in desperation.

(5) Instead I buy the cheapest ‘intended for milk’ cocoa mix there is (nesquik! oh my god!) and a bottle of instant decaf coffee.

now my special coffee goes like this: medium cup, 3 spoons of chocolate powder, 1 teaspoon of instant coffee, cream, hot water. my husband would make it for me.

(6) Then I read something about trying to reduce the sugar in my coffee to 1 teaspoon, so I calculate the number of grams in a teaspoon of sugar (5g) then I try to figure out how small my coffee/chocolate combo should be. I switch from the medium to the small coffee cups (of the three sizes), to make a smaller 5g of sugar portion, and I mix one spoon of decaf with only one spoon of nesquik (lame) and some cream and hot water. My husband makes my coffee for me, after I clarify the specific recipe which changes daily.

(7) Last friday I had a catered event, and there was some real coffee left over, I put it in a jar. now I’m adding it a few tablespoons at a time to my little special coffee, for a tiny bit of caffeine but also to use it up. My husband makes my coffee for me, BUT every day, now, he has to ask me ‘how I want it’.

(I want to moderate my drinking, I can’t figure out how to do it, I try things that don’t work because the thing I’m looking for isn’t in the alcohol.)

I have an idea of what I want and I keep changing, because I can’t match the idea. for the hot chocolate coffee combo? I’m looking for some feeling that isn’t there. It reminds me of home. when I used to have it before my sunday long runs. I can still remember the sound the spoon made in the square blue cup (that the movers broke). mix a bit of powder in the bottom with cream, then add hot water.

why do I want that experience now?


what am I getting instead? gritty nesquik in a small less-than-5g-cup with an endlessly patient husband (but how patient is he, really, how long can he tolerate the intolerable).

(8) yesterday morning I got up and did research on homemade instant hot chocolate. it is really just cocoa, sugar and powdered milk. I have all that. I make some, it’s fine. but it has 30 g of sugar in one cup.

(9) yesterday afternoon I walked to the Marks & Spencer to check out the hot chocolate they have (again). surely this would be easier. but it has 26 g of sugar per serving and it’s 3,25€ for 10. I leave without buying any.


if the thing that I’m looking for isn’t IN the hot coffee drink, then it’s time for me to move on. stop trying to make it into something it isn’t. go back to tea. I was drinking only tea before. I liked it there. my husband can make tea: add one bag to the teapot, fill with water. serve with any mug. it’s just plain easier.

(if the feeling you’re looking for isn’t in the alcohol, they stop fucking with the quantities, timing, types and tricks. just move on. the thing you’re looking for isn’t in there. the feeling better? it’s not in a bottle.)

“Today I choose to do whatever is necessary to live a sober lifestyle”

From my inbox:

Kelly (day 3): “Good morning Belle, Another successful day and evening.  I woke up this morning feeling much better than I have in awhile.  I thought about how nice it was not to have to have a mug of water at my bedside to ease the constant thirst attack.  I realized how much better I slept not having to wake up 3-4 times a night to go pee.  I realized that my mouth no longer feels like someone took a shit in it in the morning.  I realized that my face and belly don’t look/feel so bloated … I realized that I was able to stay up until 9:00 p.m. watching something the news and remember what I watched.  I realized that I had a phone conversation with a friend at 8:00 p.m. and can recall the details of that discussion.

But most of all, I realize how I have single-handedly harmed myself more than all the abusers/neglecters of my past.  I have a choice, I always did.  Today, I choose to stop poisoning my body and mind.  Today I choose to move forward and focus on today.  Today I choose to do whatever is necessary to live a sober lifestyle.  Today I choose to use the tools and reach out to those like you (and your followers) whenever I start feeling stuck and moving in the wrong direction.

Thank you, thank you, thank you Belle.  If there is a heaven, you are certain to have a front row seat.”

From me:

I got to run today! i can’t tell you how happy i am right now. after weeks and weeks and weeks of stooopid health stuff, i finally was given the green light to run again… now, don’t get all excited, i did something very light (10 x 1 minutes with walking in between) … but i’m not kidding, i feel like i could leap a tall building!

This is something i KNOW about me. I KNOW that i feel better when i run. it doesn’t even matter how long, 10 minutes is fine. I KNOW this to be true. And since this is a new year, i’m going to put my needs first this year (it’s about fucking time). I need to run to feel better. it’s not about weight loss (but losing pounds is nice) and it’s not about fitness (though surely that’s a lovely side-benefit, too). It’s about how I FEEL after I run. I feel successful. I feel like I’ve done something with my day. I feel more relaxed. I feel more even.

i run to control my mood. i’ve known that for a long time. it’s the fastest way i know to change my ‘state’ and to get myself out of a funky mood.

Other things that work for me (these things don’t work as well as running, but they still work): singing along to loud music, playing guitar, developing a new recipe that actually works, laughing, a big long bath, clean sheets.

your list might include patting a puppy, smelling a baby, or taking pictures in abandoned buildings (are you out there?).

and being a list-making girl, i like to make a list of things that can my mood. Because when i’m in a funky place i seem to forget what would make me happy!



i also did a subscriber podcast on changing states/moods, sort of like changing the channel on a radio. It’s SP#17 “Sleep & Changing the Channel.”



it all started with amy

Happy 365 Days to Amy!

you know it all started with Amy.

Amy: “I have been reading your blog on and off for a lot of today and wanted to say thank you. I am 41 years old and have struggled with the way I drink since my mid teens. It has been a great relief to read about your success and to hear the same thoughts I’ve had over and over come from someone else’s head…. Thank you for opening yourself up and being honest about your problems with alcohol. It helps me not feel so crazy! Best, Amy”

me: “you are so welcome 😉 how sweet of you to reach out! you’re definitely not crazy. it’s just the booze that makes us think weird things, and as soon as the booze is gone our thoughts become more ‘normal’ … and the relief you’ll feel is quick in coming (thankfully). some days still suck, but resisting booze is NOTHING compared to feeling like a crazy person!  I’d be happy to hear how you do as you go along 🙂 if you’d like to be pen pals, just send me a message now and then (or daily!) to report on how you’re doing, what you’re thinking, and all the genius ideas you realize as you go along. all best, Belle”

Please let’s raise a glass of tonic/chai tea/v8 juice to Amy. She’s celebrating day 365 today. AND she has been featured in Good Housekeeping magazine. AND she is rocking the sober world on her blog. Imagine what the next year will bring 🙂

Team 100 update: 438 members, welcome to InNeedOfGrace (59), Mr Fun (7), SimpleCalm (20), London (3), Zentient (97), Changingmylifeat60 (13), Monica (9), Joan (17), ldederer (7), Nuchter Maya (7), Old_dude29 (7), Sasha (10), Jeroen (68), Justme (5), Cactus Garden (6), Alana (5), Liza (8), Bonnie (5), Shell Bell (5), Kristina (5), Peter (6), Katiebelle (5), Mauri (6), Alli (7), TS (5), Rae (15), NoMoreGames (3), Janet (8), Dubby (4), Feisty (2), Jz (2), Charlotte (9), Theface (2), Doggie Momma (2), Nevermore (2).

Happy 100 Days to Nic!

fuck humble

You remember Kelly? you met her when she was on day 10. Today she’s on day 31 and she sent me an update.

I actually wavered a bit on whether to post this or not. y’all, it’s impossible for me to share on the blog all the emails i get like this… for fear of ego-boosting (and other shaming techniques).

But as Cat Girl (day 82) advised me this morning, the traditional sober world “hates any kind of perceived self-congratulation. *STAY HUMBLE. Stay down.* D’you know what, I have spent long enough down, secretly hating myself, listing my defects of character in my own head, I really don’t feel the need to do it all over again. Now, I feel like getting out of the sewer. Getting up. Being proud of myself for what I’ve achieved here, the power I’ve exerted in saying no to drinking.”

So fuck humble.

And anyway, Kelly’s email isn’t about me. It’s about her. And can you see how strong she is? How great she feels? That, my friends, is too good not to share. Get ready to cry:

Good morning Belle, I just recently stumbled on your “tiny gift button” on your blog.  I could feel your angst as the words were literally cringing out on the page.  However, I see it as something you are doing for those of us who really want to do something for you in return for all your goodness.

For me (without exaggeration or high drama) you have saved my life. Now you could have been very well put into my path by those pesky angels I’ve told you about, but you are the one that writes back to me each day and the all the other 100s of people.  You blog everyday sharing your thoughts or share the thoughts of your penpals.  You inspire other problem drinkers with common sense, you step forward courageously with your no nonsense, straight forward, telling it like it is wisdom and you virtually hug each of us with compassion, kindness and support.

So, to me, you definitely are on my Christmas list and deserving of a special treat. You have been a friend extraordinaire and without you, I may have very well fallen back on my drunken butt and into a hell hole of no return.

It is such a simple exercise but for whatever reason, I feel accountable to a woman I’ve never met, a woman I don’t want to disappoint or let down (even though I know you wouldn’t see it that way) and hell bent on keeping a promise I made 31 days ago.  Maybe I was just ready to be accountable and stop lying or maybe, just maybe, I never found anyone who had the exact recipe with their words and actions, that I felt I could trust and do this really hard thing.

All this to say is that I will be pushing that tiny gift button in the coming weeks and hope you will treat yourself as you are so deserving. The song “To Sir with Love” has been playing in my head and I think there are parallels in all of this.  How do I thank someone who has been instrumental in saving my life?  Words are great, tiny gifts are lovely, but the best way I can repay you is by living my life well each and every day. I’m doing this humbly but with my head held high. I am no longer dragging my face into the sidewalk with shame.  I cannot grow into the future if I hold onto the past.

Watch me grow Belle!  Hugs, Kelly xo

Happy 100 days and Happy 100 days

Happy 100 days to Bizi

Bizi: “Dear Belle, I had been a lurker before I started the challenge… when we had our last [vacation] I started. I knew that there were not any vacations nor holidays for the 100 days. So I took the plunge and started counting days of Alcohol free. I had never gone that long with out a drink, I have differing lengths of abstinence over the last 3 years, month here a month there. 90 days once last year. But this is the first time that I made it 100 days. So for this I say thank you Belle for supporting me. It made it easy to not drink when I finally let go of all of the drama and said that *I don’t drink anymore*. Period.”

Happy 100 days to Julz!

Julz: “100 days done and dusted -yay me!!! – bring on challenge 180!

How I felt 100 days ago: desperate, sad, knackered, tired – oh so tired, tired of being tired, tired of being a half hearted mother with nil energy for my two beautiful children, grumpy with my children, grumpy with my husband, doing a rubbish job at work, horrid in every aspect of my life.

How I felt a week or so in to the challenge: knackered, tired, grumpy, but…….. Hopeful, proud

How I felt half way through the challenge: still tired and like a chocolate addict, but….. Happy, energy boosted, proud.

How I feel now: still like a chocolate addict but….. Happy, energy boosted, like a good mum, I have time and energy for my two beautiful babies, I am watching them flourish before my eyes, they talk to me, they have fun with me, yes I occasionally go mad, but these are NORMAL mummy moments NOT hungover ones, I am doing a good job at work, i am being a good wife, I am sooooooo proud of myself, I am sooooooo happy.

Does wolfie a still talk to me? Yes, occasionally, but rarely and when he does I give him a quick flick and he’s gone, I know it might not always be like this and I know times could still get tough but right now life it good, I’m good, I’m better than good — I’m alive!”

From me:

I am fine. I am not working too hard. I am not overwhelmed. I am not someone to worry about (at least not this week!). I am having a very slack period in catering and I’m happy for that. i could use some magic to help me sleep soundly at night, but i fear that at nearly 47 years old, that skill isn’t going to be mine. i have other talents. being a sound sleeper isn’t one of them. and since i no longer self-medicate with wine or cold medicine, i’m just … sleepless in europe this week. This weekend i hope to get back to running more regularly and i’m sure that’ll help.

i’m also old y’all. and may need some … hormones.


Like my sleep wasn’t already fucked up enough. honestly. the injustice of it all. can’t i have nice hair AND sleep soundly through the night? No? fine. i’ll keep the nice hair and just DEAL. but i will whine about it. to an audience. you’ll see.