sober for october

i know how you feel about having a magic sober start date.
i know that wolfie tells you there’s a right day to begin.
after the vacation, after the horse race, after the surgery.
i know it doesn’t seem like it, but wolfie will INVENT imaginary reasons why you should wait.

when really, you start now, you feel better now.

but since i KNOW you’re prone to magical thinking that the date matters, let me present this.
You can do ‘Sober for October‘.

ready? if you need a sober penpal, let me know. if you’ve been a sober penpal before and you need a restart, let me know. if you are gloriously sober and want to add to your sober days, let me know. if you think i’m full of shit, wait a day and see how you feel tomorrow.

Are you in?


Benefits include great sleep, return of self-esteem, elimination of hangovers. Save $400 to $1,000 a month by not drinking. Double your money back if you hate being sober after hundreds of days.
For a limited time. Reach out now.
Operators are standing by.

Sobriety ~ It’s not just for alcoholics anymore.



my blog allows anonymous posts, so you can just make up a screen name for yourself, or you can call yourself Anonymous. Tell us what day sober you are today, and how you hope to feel at the end of a continuous month sober. If you’re on day 2 or day 272, you can still chime in and pledge to rack up continuous days sober in October.


painting #510.
you have potential when you’re sober. link >


Be Kind To You

I’m reading a book and if I read to you from the book
And I substitute the word ‘sober’ where he’s talking about something else
This will make as much sense to you as it did to me when I was reading it

And it goes like this
The worst part of this whole situation is that starting being sober and not continuing
Makes you feel terrible

These are not his words
This is me changing it because as soon as I read it I thought OK
I have to share this because this is genius
Because when you make a goal to be sober
You make a promise to yourself
The moment you create that goal
You’ve made a silent promise
And then when you don’t do it, you’ve broken that promise
And you’ve lied to the person you spend the most time with
Which is you
And if you break enough promises
You start to doubt yourself

That’s not surprising

If someone told you a dozen different times
That they’d meet you for coffee and then they never showed up
You wouldn’t trust them
If a parent promised to pick you up at soccer practice
And didn’t
You’d lose faith in them
If a boss promised you a promotion
And then didn’t deliver month after month
You’d quit believing her

When you break enough promises you start to doubt yourself
This is not surprising

I thought when I read that:
This is exactly what early sobriety is about
We don’t know if we can count on ourselves
We don’t know if we’re going to do it

We want to move away from the place of feeling bad
We want to move into a new place of feeling better

How do you do that
How do you quit

You get support from someone external to you
Someone who could repeatedly
In an email
In an audio
In an audio
Whisper in your ear
This is what you want
This is what you’re doing
Doesn’t matter what you’ve done before
It doesn’t matter that you didn’t show up for soccer practice before
What matters is what you’re doing today
Because today is how you write the new story
Of what happens next


if alcohol is an elevator that only goes down, you may have to look for an exit. and once you’re off, stay off.
original art thanks to mr.belle who has been painting in the living room of the rental apartment in vermont. including getting navy blue paint on the beige carpet …
this is Exit #509, link >

it tastes good

from Lurker K:  

“Hello Belle, I have to admit that I’m definitely a lurker, mostly to try and convince myself that I’m not like everyone else. But deep down I know I am. I know my nightly alcohol is a problem. BUT it just tastes good! It’s not only the ‘forget my problems’ or ‘relax at the end of the day’ drink. It just TASTES good. Better than soda water & cranberry juice, iced tea or fruit water.”

me: alcohol tastes like a blackout, like waking up not feeling proud of yourself. you wouldn’t drink gasoline, no matter how much your brain lied to you and told you that it tasted good. you wouldn’t drink gasoline because “that shit is poison and no good comes from it.” wolfie can be such a bastard.




stay here. stay sober. stay true to you.
link >



online support works for me because …

Freedom: “I love it because it’s available whenever I need it. I don’t have to get childcare arranged in order to use it as a resource. It makes me realise that there are many thousands of us doing this around the world and that I’m not alone (like Wolfie likes to tell me). And it feels safer sometimes.”

what if it’s harder to quit next time?

email from Indy:
“Hi Belle, I’m on Day 290 today. This is me adding a sober blanket.  As I look toward 1 year sober, I have a lot of trepidation. Different thoughts I have at various times: Absolutely no chance I’ll drink again. No desire to do so. / I miss the heady feeling of a few drinks. Maybe I can do special occasions? / Perhaps I can try the occasional drink and if I get uncomfortable with the amount I’m drinking, I’ll go back to sobriety. / What if I try the occasional drink and I go back to the hell I was wanting to get away from when I was over-drinking? / I should just continue to not drink. / But I did a year sober. If it drinking doesn’t go well, I can do it again. / But what if it’s harder to quit next time? What if I can’t get off the elevator? / But I really miss having a drink now and again. Is there seriously NO ONE who’s had success with moderation after a period of over-drinking? /

In my heart of hearts, in the pit of my stomach, in my gut, I KNOW which of those bullet points are Me and which of those bullet points are Wolfie. I want to be sober. But as I near a year, with that milestone passed, I’m afraid he’ll win in a weak moment. Really afraid.

I am reminding myself that: I can want an ‘Off Button’ all day long, but I didn’t come with one. I’m also a feminine gay white female who’d love to know what it’s like to be a big strong heterosexual black male. But that’s not in the cards either … (Hahahahaha!!)

Anyhow, I’m definitely having anxiety about the one year mark. I plan to reach out more and stack up the sober supports. Thanks, Belle – you’re the greatest. Love, Indy”

me: i’ll just say one thing now, briefly, while I am on my phone. And I’ll respond in more detail later. The short answer is this: you are not approaching one year sober. You are more than two months away. A lot of things change in two months. Think of the difference between day 1 and day 60. The time to think about what to do on your one year anniversary is five days before that date arrives. and thinking about it now is wolfie winding you up for no reason. 

Indy: “Thank you, Belle. Great point.”

[update: she’s on day 1076 today]

dear apartment rental people. our art is better than the art you have on the walls in the living room. love, us.

this is exit 481, a new montreal painting completed in this exact living room. striving to improve apartment art, one painting at a time. and you’ll get to choose the word that goes on it …

i think my moderation button is fixed

sometimes when penpals finish 180 days sober, i suggest that they extend and write a new pledge to go to day 365. here’s what Beach_Gurl sent:

“I’ve done 180 days! I’m ready for more! I love the way I feel sober and I know it will only get better!
Wolfie is mostly quiet these days but I know if he lurks I need to reach out -immediately!
I vow to not drink one fucking drop between now and my one year soberversary!
I will not have a FUCK IT moment!

I will not drink even if:
I am happy and want to celebrate
I am sad because I miss my girls or my mom.
I just want a little buzz.
I want to escape with wine with my husband sitting on our deck.
I think my moderation button is fixed—- because it FUCKING ISNT!
Wolfie shows his bastard self.
I’m feeling sorry for myself because I’m injured.
I have a terrible day teaching (there are many)!
Think I’m missing all the fun.

Instead I will:
Celebrate by playing some upbeat music and dance around singing off key!
Cry and feel my grief for my mom or skype with my girls.
Exercise and get an endorphin high.
Call the fix-it shop and tell them, don’t bother fixing it, I won’t be needing my moderation button.
Kick wolfie wine bastard in the balls and tell him to fuck off! I’m in control, not him.
Look around and see others worse off than me. Quit whining and do abs.
Vent for 5 minutes to my husband about the rude disrespectful students, then forget about it!
Remember my sister in law making an ass out of herself and witnessing her self hatred.
I will not drink, no matter what!
I want to see what happens next! I CAN DO THIS!!!”


this is exit 479, a new montreal painting just completed yesterday. you’ll get to choose the word that goes on it …

One Year Of Art — Find Your Exit 2

When I posted the first Exit painting, without mr.belle’s permission, I was prepared for him to be mad.

For meddling in his career. For not asking first.

I saw ‘Exit’ on the painting, and thought “well this goes exactly with what I’ve been saying about how alcohol is an elevator that only goes down, and we have to Exit. Find the door. Get off, and stay off.”

So I photographed, cropped, and posted the first photo on the site. You can see the floor of the living room underneath. I had to tape it to the floor with little rolls of masking tape on each corner to get it to stay flat.

I had no idea how much to list for a price, though. To be honest, if you checked the site that first evening, you’d have seen a half dozen different prices. I started at $50. Then panicked and put it at $30.

A few hours went by and nothing happened.

When I held the painting up to the light, I could see all the layers of paint, like layers of sober supports.

Another hour. Nothing happened.

I set the price at $70 + $14 shipping (having no idea what it would cost to ship). We could call this method of pricing the ‘anal extraction method’ — as I simply pulled the number out of my ass.

And then I went to bed.

I still had no idea why he’d done this Exit painting in the first place.

What did it mean to him?

This is Exit painting #2, and it went to Mlodius in California 🙂
more here


from me: thanks for your feedback on Part 1 (link below). and thanks for ideas on what parts of the story you want to know more about (like when i said ‘visa’ in Part 1, did you think i meant credit card? i should have said visa for foreigners to live in france…) 
the point in sharing this is to celebrate one year of paintings, and to tell a story (hopefully!) about how being sober is just like putting your (husband’s) art on the internet and opening yourself up to cheerleading (and the occasional barb).
ready for Part 3? yes? (or if you’re bored, let me know and i’ll stop!)~

peewit:  “Yes yes, more story, and more behind the scenes marital shenanigans (!) cos those peeks into your relationship are major teaching tools, I learn so much from them. Plus for an artist (me!) to see someone actually selling such incredible quantities of work and quietly achieving life-changing things which simultaneously hugely impact their audience is very very nice indeed, xxxx.”


Missed the first installment?
Link to part 1 > here


small notes about labour day long weekend (and other things) #1

labour day long weekend. perhaps the last weekend of summer (in the northern hemisphere) … and you? you don’t drink. you say: i’m doing a cleanse. you say that alcohol affects your sleep. you say: i’m taking a break. you say: thanks i’ll start with water. you say that you’re taking a one year leave of absence from alcohol. you say that you’re not drinking until you lose 20 pounds. you say you’re taking medication. you say you have a yeast infection. and for the one ridiculous human who gives you a hard time, you get right in their grill and you say “i’m on day 51, i wonder how long you’d last.” and then you smile your very best smile.


painting 454 matches the couch 🙂  >

One Year of Art — Find Your Exit

from me: 
If alcohol is an elevator that only goes down, then you get off and you stay off. And in the last year, 450 (ish) paintings have been mailed all over the world. Dubai, Kansas, Vancouver, Germany, Switzerland.
The way the story starts, though, is like lots of stories.

 It starts with an argument. The best kind of marital argument where I’m SURE I’m right and he’s wrong.
We’d just returned from a particularly distressing visa meeting with the French government—you know, the kind where they’re saying ‘you can’t do this, you must do that’. And there is much finger-wagging in Mr.Belle’s direction.
I had warned him for months beforehand. They’re going to give you shit for this, I said. No, they won’t, they don’t care, he replied. They are going to send us home to Canada, I whined. No, they won’t, it’ll be fine, he repeated.
Well, it wasn’t fine.
Before the agent could approve us for the next level of our resident visa, she apparently had to do a careful review of his file.
And then she said what I knew she would (I knew it! I was right!): “Monsieur, you cannot have this visa renewed in this situation.”
She said it with a nice French accent. But still.
 Three days later, in a fit of frustration, I went into my husband’s things while he was at work, pulled out one of his ‘for fun’ paintings, and stuck it up on the website.

   That day was August 15th, one year ago today. 

This is Exit painting #1, and it went to Indy in California 🙂
more here
I thought I’d try to tell the story of this, and how it started, and why, over the next few days. It will sound like a sober story: can’t tell what to do, try something, see if it works, adjust, try something else, wait and see, worry, get traction, feel nervous …
Because everything is like everything.
And being sober is just like putting your (husband’s) art on the internet and opening yourself up to cheerleading (and the occasional barb). Thankfully lots more kind things said, than shitty. Just like being sober 🙂 Some weird bits, still better than before… If you’re interested in hearing part 2 of the story, let me know.


art shows & live podcast recordings this fall

from me:

i will be travelling this fall, and will be hosting a few events that will be a combination art show for Mr.B’s exit paintings AND a live podcast recording.

You can come meet us (well, mr.belle will be at some of the events). We’ll have snacks and paintings and you’ll meet interesting people (hahaha, I mean besides me).

Saturday, September 7th, 2019
Time: 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Location: Near Jean Talon market. The exact location will be sent to you 2 days before the event.

Details: We will meet at 2 pm, have coffee and snacks, chat, look at art, chat some more, and then I’ll turn on the microphone to begin recording the podcast at 2:45 pm sharp. Guests will be able to watch/listen as it’s done live, and ask questions live, too, if desired. Voices only will be recorded, no faces. After we’ll have time to visit a bit longer. Mr. Belle will be in attendance.

TICKETS available here

Saturday, September 21st, 2019
Time: 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Location: Near Waterfront Park. The exact location will be sent to you 2 days before the event.

Details: We will meet at 2 pm, have coffee and snacks, chat, look at art, chat some more, and then I’ll turn on the microphone to begin recording the podcast at 2:45 pm sharp. Guests will be able to watch/listen as it’s done live, and ask questions live, too, if desired. Voices only will be recorded, no faces. After we’ll have time to visit a bit longer. Mr. Belle will be in attendance.

TICKETS available here

LONDON, England 
Sunday, November 10th, 2019
Time: 2 pm – 5 pm
Location: TBA

Details: We will meet at 2 pm, have coffee and snacks, chat, look at art, chat some more, and then I’ll turn on the microphone to begin recording the podcast at 2:45 pm sharp. Guests will be able to watch/listen as it’s done live, and ask questions live, too, if desired. Voices only will be recorded, no faces. After we’ll have time to visit a bit longer. Mr. Belle will NOT be in attendance. He’s going to an a-ha concert that same weekend!

TICKETS available here


For all cities, i am open to your best recommendations for a place to host – like a yoga studio, or a lawyer’s conference room, or a hotel’s private meeting space. If not, i have back plans for each city but you might know somewhere better 🙂

Can’t wait to meet you. Really. This will be a ton of fun.

hugs, belle xo

Bonus and FREE podcasts loaded into itunes for you to access now

something really wonderful has happened.

i’ve received a large donation from a penpal who’s now successfully sober and she wants to pay it forward.

the coolest thing? this donation means that starting today, you can listen to some of my brand new podcasts, mixed with some archived audios … long ones AND shorter one-minute messages.

And it’s all free.

I can do this for a month starting today, thanks to the donation that I’ve received.



1. The audios are available on iTunes (Apple Podcast). See #4 below for Android. To listen to the podcasts on your iphone, go to the purple Podcast app and search for “Sober Belle” and that’ll show you the “Sober Insights” picture. Then click subscribe.


2. Video for iphone: Need a visual?
1 minute video on how to subscribe here.


3. Desktop: No phone? No problem. You can listen through apple podcasts (itunes) online here


4. How to listen on Android (video)
2 minute video on how to subscribe here.

hugs and happy tuesday to you 🙂

p.s. I’d be so happy for you to share this post too, if you have places where you do that sort of thing 🙂 here’s the link to share:


this is painting #496 here >

this is painting #496 here >