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 🙂

hugs from me xo

i’m fine, i’m fine, i’m fine, i’m tired…

From Monday, March 23, 2020, sent out as a daily email to free email subscribers.

no comparing… 

so here’s how my mood goes:
i’m fine
i’m fine
i’m fine
then all of a sudden i’m tired

i’m sleeping 10-11 hrs a night, which i know is a sign that my subconscious is continuously busy processing stuff. you too?

my catering work has all stopped now, as has Job #1, and husband’s work has stopped. but the sober world still turns 🙂

one thing i’m realizing, too, and maybe you’re feeling this, is that my mood is ‘good’ until something irritating happens, or flattening, or even marginally hard, and then i’m squished flat for longer, like 2-3 hrs, and THEN I bounce back up again.

we’re resilient but still need to allow time for bounce-back.

for example, this morning i got up and my husband presented me with the news headlines without me asking, and i had only been awake for 3 minutes. He tells me that the canadian olympians will not be travelling to the olympics this summer. now this is totally irrational and nonsensical of me, but it seemed extra depressing that it was the canadians who did this first. i said to husband, “why do they have to do this first? why can’t it be italy who says it first?” (as if who says it first really matters.)

When i know that canada/usa aren’t in the exact level of lockdown that we’re in, AND they’are already taking such definitive steps — i don’t know, it felt more real. so i said to husband: no more news unless i ASK for it, and never first thing in the morning.

i also realize that you and me, we’re working on being kind to ourselves as we face things in REAL time.

i can’t say “oh i’ll think about the olympics later,” i have to have that emotion now, so that i can be ready for what comes next. (i did read a bit more about it, felt better afterwards.)

when we’re sober we do emotions in REAL time. we do them as they come up.

because really, who wants to homeschool their 3 kids with no notice? no one. and then we do.
who wants to have their adult kids at home while they’re trying to sell a house and job hunt at the same time? no one. and then we do.

and in the ‘kindness’ category, i realize that i only have so much bandwidth each day. i saw that another sober writer was hosting live group zoom calls DAILY, and i thought, “well i should be doing that too,” but then felt too tired last week.

then i realized: i’m emailing people 3-4 hours a day, helping everyone with adjustments. no wonder she has energy to do a live show EVERY DAY while dealing with her own adjustments: she’s not a sober penpal. 

so since i have this unique life where I am a penpal to about 75 or 80 people at a time, and this work doesn’t stop for the corona virus, then for now my focus is (a) taking care of me, and (b) taking care on my penpals.

everything else comes after that 🙂

Because really, when does comparing myself to other sober writers ever help us? we all suffer from this comparion thing, right? What we need to remember (you and me, both), is that she’s doing her thing, and i’m doing mine. i can’t be her. and there’s nobody else in the world doing what i’m doing, so i can’t compare myself to anyone 🙂

after the news dump this morning, i went out for my run (sunny, cold, 3C), and went to the frozen food store and discovered they’re having their once-a-year special on imported American food, and that they finally have the best ever macaroni and cheese in stock (made with the best cheese from pike place market in seattle). I got two boxes, and THIS is my treat for today, thank you very much! it tastes like ‘home’ to me 🙂

you? you working on being kind to you? hugs


You’re ready for something new. Exit the booze elevator. This is the time. Get out and stay out. Look for the sign.

new painting posted
this is #596
link here >

thanks so much for your support 😉 at one painting per day, that’s enough to keep the lights on …

see this new painting here >


hugs from me (and him)



kindness & patience

lots of k&p
(kindness & patience)

“Belle, I live in a part of NY that is in the heart of all the commotion. I’m seeing amazing acts of kindness, communities coming together to support one another and families just doing the best they can. But I’m also seeing stress and overwhelm and lots of ‘thank god for wine’ kind of social media posts. It’s now more than ever that we have to take care of our sober selves, so that we can take care of our friends and families in kind. So thank you for the support.”

“Your audios are a breath of fresh air. Literally as I walk my dogs on the cold Chicago sun. Listening to you calms me down as everyone else in the US is going crazy. It’s hard to find a voice of reason in all this, my husband thinks it’s fine for his brother to fly here for Easter in 2 weeks, I said no way, we have 2 kids and they just closed restaurants and bars here in [our state] … walking and listening to you keeps me from screaming at the world to calm the fuck down. It’s scary as hell, but what’s scarier is people hoarding food and toilet paper and acting foolish. I hope the kindness you spoke of happens sooner than later. I am reading a book today and then eating popcorn. you mentioned popcorn and that sounds good. Maybe I’ll watch a silly movie with my daughter and hope my husband forgives me. But I will not drink. Thank you for your daily words. I look forward to tomorrow’s message.”

“But for some reason today your email really struck a chord. Kindness and patience everyday – no matter if there is a virus or not. People having their own issues which makes them want to correct others (how to deliver a work project, stacking the dishwasher, on social media) – wow, never looked at it like that. People are doing the best they can – choose K&P and recognise it’s just our opinion that they are wrong – lord I need to hear this every day! Other people’s reactions are not going to move you out of your camp and into theirs. So powerful. Love the way this helps me see it as a conscious choice, choose a camp and stay there, don’t be halfy-half or be coaxed out. Thanks for continuing to send these xx”


perhaps now more than ever, we want something to share
small Quarter paintings, small budget
each quarter painting about 15 x 21 cm (6″ x 8.25″)
got notice again today from the post office that mail continues to work as normal 🙂
link here >

stay = stay here. stay sober. stay focussed on today. 

show the best version of yourself

if you’re signed up to get the free daily emails, then you’ve seen some of the extra sober support bits i’ve been sending out. here is one of the recent messages.

small notes about the corona virus (and other things) #11

If you are running around in your head, going all over the fucking place about stuff that hasn’t happened yet, then you need to get that shit settled down right now. Because if this is going to go on for several weeks, you are going to exhaust yourself on day 2, and that doesn’t help you, and it doesn’t help anybody.

So whatever you’re doing that’s winding you up, you’re going to stop doing it now, OK? All the things that you are doing that are contributing to how [crummy] you’re feeling now, you’re going to stop all of it.

Because you preserving your mental health right now is the most important thing.

You being sober, right now, is the most important thing. There are people relying on you. YOU are relying on you.

If you think that the world is going to end, and you think that somehow drinking is a good idea, that’s ludicrous. That’s not actually what’s happening, at all. Your wolfie voice will tell you to drink AT something that isn’t happening. [The world is not ending.] If you’re feeling like it IS happening right now, then you’re watching too much news, and YOU are in charge of that. YOU are in charge of how much radio you listen to, and YOU are in charge of how much you go outside safely during the time that you’re not in lockdown …

Your responsibilities right now have to do with the inside of your head and the inside of your home, the people closest to you, and maybe your neighbours. You might offer to make lunch for Granny next door, or you might offer to pick up groceries for them … I saw Catherine Gray on instagram talking about that, she was about putting notes in people’s mailboxes saying “if you need somebody to pick up groceries for you, let me know.” …

I think we have an opportunity, too, when things are happening, to show a best version of ourselves. I know that you’re good in a crisis. I know you are.

I know that the way you want to be in the world is a decision that you remake every minute of every day. Who you want to be right now, during this – whatever version of events you’re currently having your city – is the best version of you.

And the best version of you does not include alcohol.

[This text is transcribed from the March 15th audio update from Paris, beginning at the 14-minute mark. If you are a podcast subscriber, this audio has been sent to you and is in your Gumroad library as Sober Podcast #358.]


there are two magnets at the top of the page here. some ‘love’ and some ‘hugs’. both might be required today. the postal mail is an essential service, so it’s still working. I can mail you some brightness first thing tomorrow morning.


there are a lot of things to do inside

if you’re signed up to get the free daily emails, then you’ve seen some of the extra sober support bits i’ve been sending out. here are a few of the recent messages.

small notes about the corona virus (and other things) #7

turns out there are a lot of things to do inside. like cleaning and filing and tax-preparing. then there’s choux pastry to make eclairs, and then bread (i buy my yeast in bulk and then store it in the fridge for a YEAR). decluttering works, like drawers and closets. making muffins works. and when i say ‘works’ i mean it’s a good way to spend an hour. listening to weirdly soothing podcasts helps, like mine below (ahem!) but also i’ve been listening to some writing podcasts (like #amwriting and the early episodes of Mom Writes) and TED talks like ones about shyness or changing your behaviour. i’m also working on eating up the leftovers, to ensure there’s no waste at a time like this. so lunch will be a weird combination of taboleh and half a sausage and a toasted english muffin…

small notes about the corona virus (and other things) #8

today you’re doing something nice for yourself. knitting. washing the garden gnomes. reading to your daughter. you’re making soup with the broth from the freezer. you’re walking to the corner to buy chips and then coming home again (crisps, if you live in the UK, and to be fair, it was mr.belle who got the chips, and i got powdered milk, to make bread!).
today you’re doing something for you. you’re rewatching downton abbey, great british bake-off, or the movie high fidelity.
today you’re doing something nice for you.

are you going to email me and say “but i’m not married, but i’m not alone, but my name isn’t emma?”
you are going to insert the words that work best for you 🙂 even when you’re worried, you will apply flexibility, empathy, and kindness to all things 😉

stay here, in the present

if you’re signed up to get the free daily emails, then you’ve seen some of the extra sober support bits i’ve been sending out. here are a few of the recent messages.

small notes about the corona virus (and other things) #3

stay here, in the present, no catastrophizing. your head will tend to run head and wonder about later — what if this, what if that. anticipatory anxiety at its finest. for now, you’re doing today. you do reasonable things, like you get some groceries. you don’t have to stop and make 10 meals for the freezer. and you don’t have to decide today about things happening next week. you can stay put, snuggle in, and worry about this one day right here 🙂 we live in the present. we take actions in the NOW. (but also, our wolfie head likes to think “what if i’m stuck with my husband for days and …” And the answer is “thanks wolfie, i’ll deal with that later. i’m staying here. i’m doing today. and i’m not drinking today.”

small notes about the corona virus (and other things) #5

you’re going to need to set aside time to take care of you. yes, i know you’re taking care of so many other things right now, but YOU are an important ingredient in all of this.
if you’re crammed in familial spaces, you’ll need alone time (in the backyard, in the bedroom with the door closed). even if it’s half an hour.
if you’re alone and feeling disconnected, then you’ll turn on the radio to satellite music (the ’80s preferably, or the DMB station), and you’ll log into your favourite online resources, and you’ll listen to audio books, and podcasts. you’ll facetime your friends.
whatever it is that you need, arrange to get some of it. you’ll have to ask for it, though. no one is coming into your house and saying, “Right! Where’s Emma? Time out for you, 15 minutes, upstairs, now!” Instead, Emma herself is saying “you know, i need half an hour of alone time so i’ll set the timer, and then you can visit with me after the timer goes off.”
and then you do what you need to do.

are you going to email me and say “but i’m not married, but i’m not alone, but my name isn’t emma?”
you are going to insert the words that work best for you 🙂 even when you’re worried, you will apply flexibility, empathy, and kindness to all things 😉

keep your head attached

if you’re signed up to get the free daily emails, then you’ve seen some of the extra sober support bits i’ve been sending out. here are a few of the recent messages.

small notes about the corona virus (and other things) #1

dear you,
you’re good in a crisis. you keep your head. you are thoughtful, pensive, and you manage what’s right in front of you, right now, without going ‘madly off in all directions’. you do the next right thing. you don’t catastrophize about things that haven’t happened yet. and you remember to pat yourself on the back, a lot, for dealing with hard things while staying calm.

small notes about the corona virus (and other things) #2

you being sober is how you do the big things. it’s how you keep your head attached. by NOT engaging in additive things, you have room in your brain to focus on what needs to be done now. giving time to the rabbit holes of addiction? no time now. literally. no time. you’ve got things to do. kids to arrange. parents to check on. you’ve got colleagues who need someone to feed their horses for them because they’re stuck out of town. you are focussed on what needs to be done today. you’re awake and present. this is you here. right here. doing this.

for whom the belle tolls

subscriber ‘Thursdays Heather’ was one year sober on Tuesday, and she wrote this:

“We all have an inner-dialogue, whether we’re aware of it or not. This fact was amongst the many I took for granted as I began my quest to be alcohol free. I was on auto-pilot long enough that my sensible voice of reasoning was all but a tiny whisper. The war within my mind was growing ever increasingly louder; I needed living, real-life examples of how this newfound alcohol-free life worked. I needed to know if there was anyone else who felt, thought and behaved in the manner I did before toying with the notion that I was indeed certifiable (again) … I happened on a book, The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober …” >> click here to read the full article <<


mags2020 suggested that I make a magnet with ‘xo’ on it, like how i sign my emails sometimes. so i go looking around this morning and the only blank magnets I could find are these special rectangular ones. I asked him to stop his breakfast (!) and put ‘hugs’ on it in lower case. then I wrote on the xo. This is an experiment …

special edition rectangular magnet
acrylic & ink on handcut card stock
approx. size is 5.5 x 7.5 cm (2.25″ x 3″)
magnet 401 > link