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.

PART 1
 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).

MONTREAL, Quebec
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

BURLINGTON, Vermont
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

10 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.

 

HOW TO LISTEN:

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:

https://www.tiredofthinkingaboutdrinking.com/2019/08/13/10-podcasts-loaded-into-itunes-for-you-to-access-now/

~

if alcohol is an elevator that only goes down, you can get off. look for the exit sign.


this is painting #410 here > www.artsober.com

new things

I don’t know how to say this so you can hear me:
It’s not just about starting again on Day 1.
It’s not just about saying “today is my new Day 1.”
It’s about changing something.

Because if what you’ve been doing up to now isn’t working.
then you need to do something different.
It’s not just ‘try harder’ —
it’s ‘try different’.

If you email me and say
‘today’s my new Day 1’
I’m going to thunk you
and say
what are you changing?

Because you don’t want to hang around Day 1 anymore.
And you want things to be different,
and you’re emailing a sober coach,
so you want her opinion.
(Because if you didn’t,
you’d just not tell me.)

So when you tell me
“I’m on Day 1”
it would be incredibly bad form
(and not fair)
if I support you having a new Day 1
without changing anything.
That wouldn’t be fair to you.
It would probably be irresponsible on my part, too.

Because this booze thing can get worse and worse
and we don’t want that to be you.
And we don’t want that to happen to you.

It’s not just having a new Day 1 …
having a new Day 1 is fabulous,
don’t get me wrong 🙂
You do need a new Day 1.
AND you need to add some new things
because what you’ve been doing up to now
hasn’t been enough
and you want to move away from here
so you’re going to do some new things now.

 

 


 

really?
mr. belle was out putting envelopes into mailboxes (we distribute them over several, as the boxes are tiny, so it means walking for a while).
he got home,
and i said to him
“another painting sold today to JenJen on her day 100”
and he said
“that’s great.
do you want spaghetti for dinner?”
and i do. and he’s cooking.
then i went off to the balcony to take the photo for #468,
upload and crop, save,
make up the gumroad button, and post it.

468
special edition flag painting

go here > www.artsober.com

~ hugs from me (and him)

 

that fun little person who disappeared

Coco: “I see getting sober like going back to my childhood, when things were fun without alcohol. Before I ‘needed’ alcohol to have fun or fit in or deal with problems. Doing things just because they were fun. Getting back in touch with the silly, frivolous, random, not necessarily productive joys in life that seem to get squashed as we grown up.
So here is a list of some of my favorite jams from when I was a kid, and how I’m pursuing them as an adult:

  • Tea parties –> going to scope out fun teahouses in my area.
  • Arts and crafts –> taking fun workshops like glass blowing and truffle making. Taking a full on painting class.
  • Being a morning person-waking up with the sun-no alarm clocks. Starting my day really early by choice not alarm clock.
  • Going to the pool –> kids are grown and flown but I joined anyway.
  • Playing with my dollhouse –> doing fun little projects around the house.
  • Playing endless games –> finding fun new games to play.
  • Cooking and baking with my mom/making mud pies in the yard –> trying out new recipes.
  • Playing with my siblings and friends –> reconnecting with FUN friends.
  • Playing dress up –> having fun wearing all my clothes and jewelry and not saving it for special occasions.
  • Playing outside –> going for walks, exercising, spending time outdoors.

Such a girlie girl I was. I’m trying to get back in touch with that fun little person who disappeared somewhere along the line. coco”

 


 

from me: when i say ‘we’ appreciate your support, i mean me and him. and probably even him more than me, even though you never hear from him. all the writing in these emails is me. all the audios are me. all the dishes and vacuuming and the going to the post office is him. all the art is him (except for my few hope paintings). the exit paintings are just like him, actually: mostly silent, continuous, permanent, loyal. the art, the decoration, the brightness. he was making these exit paintings, in secret, long before i found them. he was working out an ‘exit’ of his own to do with his career. trying hard to get out of a situation that didn’t suit. and when i saw ‘exit’ i knew what it meant for me. for me, it means “if booze is an elevator that only goes down, then you get off and you stay off.” exit. visual reminder.

this is exit #399, link here > https://gumroad.com/l/Exit-399

 

 

Never Happen

Transcript.
OMM087 > Never Happen

You may hear this in your head:
“I don’t have a problem like those other people.”
That’s part of what our brain does.
It says:
“I’m not as bad as them.
I’m different from them.
She does this, where I do that.”
When the reality is —
and you know what I’m going to say, right? you know me … .
— the reality is that it doesn’t matter how much you drink.
What matters is how it makes you feel.
How you think about it all the time.
How you wish you drank less.
How you wish you never thought about drinking.
Gee, I named by blog
Tired of Thinking About Drinking
for a reason.
I wanted the thinking about drinking to stop.
And it turns out the way to get that to happen
is to not have any.
So when your brain acts up with the idea of
“I’m not as bad as her,
that thing happened to him, it didn’t happen to me,”
you’re supposed to add the word
YET.
“That hasn’t happened to me
yet.
I haven’t had those repercussions
yet.
And if I stop drinking now
They will never happen.”

 

~

new painting posted, with at least one exit sign (in case you need good visual reminders)


link > www.artsober.com

who are you going to turn into?

So I have a hard question for you today, that you’re going to think about all day. Are you ready? What do you want to be when you grow up? What kind of person do you want to be when you’re a sober person? Who are you going to turn into? Where is this going to take you?

Like, who are you going to be as a sober person? What’s it going to feel like? And what’s on that long list of things that you wish you could do if only you had more time? (That you’re now going to do!)

What are the things you can only do because you’re sober? Shall we make a list? Feel proud of yourself. Sleep through the night. Spend less money. Consume fewer dumb calories. Be more patient.

Other things you can do when you’re sober? Oh, I don’t know, any other hobby or interest you might have, learn Italian, carve the headboard, bake the cake, raise the kids, blow the glass beads, paint the picture. What do you have on your list that you can only do if you’re sober?

 

~

new painting posted, with at least one exit sign (in case you need good visual reminders)


link > www.artsober.com

new full-length audio interview for you (and photo!)

from me: 

I was a guest on Peter King’s podcast, “The PK Experience,” where he interviews ‘impact players’ (!). And what a great host he was too, we talked for a long time, and he asked super thoughtful questions. This was recorded July 18, 2019. and yes this is my first official headshot … photo taken at the duckpond last weekend 🙂


I will also send a copy of this audio, in full, to podcast subscribers in the next couple of days.

have a listen and let me know if there’s a ‘bumper sticker’ quote in here, a one-liner, an aha moment. (doesn’t have to actually FIT on a bumper sticker, of course.)

hugs, me


shameless commercial story about cards in the mail:
when i originally thought about sending out little cards in the mail, I was like “ok maybe 20 sets.”

you know, every month for 6 months you’d get an envelope in the mail, and there’d be two cards in there, and a bonus photo.

but really, how many people would you expect might like this?

well i had  no idea. I figured 20. Then it was 100.

as of today it’s 193! isn’t that just wacky?

the thing about these cards, though, is that it’s a one-time offer. you can’t join later, as I’ll be sending them out to everyone at once, and it’d be too confusing to have someone on month #1 and someone else on month #2. so we’ve gotta do it all at the same time.

which is now.

KM: “I love my photos from (+ of) Paris and I have them all stuck on my kitchen tiles – one for every month I’ve been free of drink – like a birthday card every month – congratulating me on my achievement, a positive message that makes me feel I’ve ‘earned’ the photo. Thank you for keeping me going.”

deadline is july 31st, which is four days from now …

how it works
Every month for 6 months you’ll get an envelope in the mail, and in that envelope will be two cards. Small messages (one-minute messages actually), transcribed, printed, and laminated. Just for you.

They will start here, in my office. I’ll feed the envelops, one by one, through the printer, and then the stamps go on (french stamps when i’m here, or mysterious foreign stamps if i’m travelling!)

And you? You’ll get one envelope in the mail, every month, for 6 months. You can do the math, it’s 6 x 2 cards = 12 cards. And I’ll adjust the timing each month, so you won’t know exactly when it’s coming …

NOTE 1:

limit: There is a limited number of envelopes i can process each month and so depending on how this goes, I may have to abruptly turn off the sales if the numbers are wacky large.

NOTE 2:

no late joining: Once i start to mail these, I can’t add new people later. I’d be too confusing. everyone gets the same thing every month. which means we all start together. now. like today.

NOTE 3:

gift: Yes you can purchase these for someone else. Just fill in YOUR email address but THEIR mailing address.

NOTE 4:

Bonus for the first 200 people who sign up, i’ll include a little photo in your envelope.

 

>> You can learn more here <<

P: “I keep the cards close! And, I appreciate the photo as much as I do the cards! I put my ‘photo-of-the-month’ on the kitchen cabinet door where I see it often. It causes me to pause. Reinforces my power to keep sober. Stay the course. Plus, I love to reply “..my friend in France..” when someone asks about it. I’m on day 331 today. Pretty proud of myself, too. It’s taken me many, many, years to “get it”. I was one that looked for, and was waiting for, that “special day” to mark my “Day 1”. Funny how it didn’t work out that way. It’s simple…a Saturday in August 2018. I relate to many of the messages you share from your pen pals. Your responses hit home, too. I nod in agreement and say, out loud, “I understand.” A lot. Thanks, Belle, I appreciate all you do. Take care, hugs from Ohio.”

not drinking – no matter what

I asked subscribers who are following along with the #dryJuly emails to send in an audio message, so I could make up this really lovely compilation of voices from all over the world. You’ll hear someone who sounds like you, from Canada, Germany, England, Australia, Colombia, and the US.

 


from me:
when i originally thought about sending out little cards in the mail, I was like “ok maybe 20 sets.”

you know, every month for 6 months you’d get an envelope in the mail, and there’d be two cards in there, and a bonus photo.

but really, how many people would you expect might like this?

well i had  no idea. I figured 20. Then it was 100.

as of today it’s 166! isn’t that just wacky?

the thing about these cards, though, is that it’s a one-time offer. you can’t join later, as I’ll be sending them out to everyone at once, and it’d be too confusing to have someone on month #1 and someone else on month #2. so we’ve gotta do it all at the same time.

which is now.

KM: “I love my photos from (+ of) Paris and I have them all stuck on my kitchen tiles – one for every month I’ve been free of drink – like a birthday card every month – congratulating me on my achievement, a positive message that makes me feel I’ve ‘earned’ the photo. Thank you for keeping me going.”

deadline is july 31st, so what is that, 5 days from now? 6? i can’t even count. what happened to july anyway? did i tell you that it’s 42C in paris this afternoon? (108F). so maybe the heat has affected my thinking slightly.

how it works
Every month for 6 months you’ll get an envelope in the mail, and in that envelope will be two cards. Small messages (one-minute messages actually), transcribed, printed, and laminated. Just for you.

They will start here, in my office. I’ll feed the envelops, one by one, through the printer, and then the stamps go on (french stamps when i’m here, or mysterious foreign stamps if i’m travelling!)

And you? You’ll get one envelope in the mail, every month, for 6 months. You can do the math, it’s 6 x 2 cards = 12 cards. And I’ll adjust the timing each month, so you won’t know exactly when it’s coming …

NOTE 1:

limit: There is a limited number of envelopes i can process each month and so depending on how this goes, I may have to abruptly turn off the sales if the numbers are wacky large.

NOTE 2:

no late joining: Once i start to mail these, I can’t add new people later. I’d be too confusing. everyone gets the same thing every month. which means we all start together. now. like today.

NOTE 3:

gift: Yes you can purchase these for someone else. Just fill in YOUR email address but THEIR mailing address.

NOTE 4:

Bonus for the first 200 people who sign up, i’ll include a little photo in your envelope.

 

>> You can learn more here <<

P: “I keep the cards close! And, I appreciate the photo as much as I do the cards! I put my ‘photo-of-the-month’ on the kitchen cabinet door where I see it often. It causes me to pause. Reinforces my power to keep sober. Stay the course. Plus, I love to reply “..my friend in France..” when someone asks about it. I’m on day 331 today. Pretty proud of myself, too. It’s taken me many, many, years to “get it”. I was one that looked for, and was waiting for, that “special day” to mark my “Day 1”. Funny how it didn’t work out that way. It’s simple…a Saturday in August 2018. I relate to many of the messages you share from your pen pals. Your responses hit home, too. I nod in agreement and say, out loud, “I understand.” A lot. Thanks, Belle, I appreciate all you do. Take care, hugs from Ohio.”

“why does she have to say f*ck all the time?”

this was my inbox on Monday:

A Free Willow (day 57): “I’m here. I’m alone for a few minutes. I clearly saw myself last year, crying on the balcony, listening to your podcast for the first time and thinking, ‘why does she have to say fuck all the time?’ I didn’t really like you. 
But now, you have a very special place in my heart.
My wine night 50 some odd days ago bummed me out. But I was okay telling you to restart me. Because it was here is where I was able to come to grips with my problem and take steps to change it, last year.
I will be sober my entire trip and every subsequent trip to my sweet little haven on the island.”

~

R: “Hmmm well, I think I may be missing something somewhere. I just don’t ‘get’ the art … lots of different stripes that my 2 year old could do… and people are buying them to be close the to the positivity you possess. I much prefer your bracelet … Hope is an optimistic state of mind that is based on an expectation of positive outcomes with respect to events and circumstances in one’s life or the world at large. As a verb, its definitions include: ‘expect with confidence’ and ‘to cherish a desire with anticipation’.
I’d love to see strong and determined – Determined/Strong: ‘intent on, bent on, set on, dead set on, insistent on, fixed on, resolved on/to, firm about, committed to, hell-bent on; More single-minded about, obsessive about, obsessed with, fanatical about, fixated on…”

me: well it turns out that hope is in short supply.
unfortunately being ‘determined’ isn’t enough to be sober. we have to be willing to take advice, be open to trying new things. not just ‘i’m determined that this is my last day 1’ but an opening of your head to a place where you can feel like ‘i’m open to trying new things, even if my head disagrees, because me doing it on my own has gotten me to here.’ hugs xo

~

SpecialC: “For about 20 years (seriously) I tried to fix the the ‘underlying problem’ [with my overdrinking]. I paid for all these online confidential courses, counselors, prescriptions, and kept using the ‘it’s ok if you slip up, you just keep trying and learning’ to my (DIS) advantage. (You can insert the DIS depending on whether you are listening to  drunken Wolfie or your intelligent self). The only thing that finally worked for me was knowing that somebody was out there and I was going to tell you I was sober every day, and that it was going to suck but I was going to be okay, and you understood that, and cared because you had done it. That was the only way to prove to myself and the stupid drunk asshole Wolfie that drinking IS the problem and the cause of most troubles: anxiety, fear, lack of self respect, loss of memory (ok I still have memory issues due to age and overbooking myself but it’s better!), inability to communicate with loved ones … (And even though my memory is not as good due to AGE, it’s still better than when I was drinking. I remember where my key are, where I spent my money, etc. I know that I will remember turning 52 on Tuesday and celebrating 111 days sober!!!!!!”

~

D: “So I became homeless on Saturday and it’s all down to alcohol. Been to various services in the last two days and I now have a tent to stay in. Things are bad but your emails help more than you know. I’m still breathing. Things aren’t too bad yet.”

me: oh god, I’m sorry. this is so hard. I have lots of free resources  and things on my site, can I send you a list of those? hugs from me

D: “Please do, salvation army gave me a tent but they didn’t give me poles with it so I’ll have to use it as a blanket :)”

me: oh shitty! you might have to rig something up 🙁 I’ll copy in the list of resources here …

D: “Thanks Belle!!! I’m ex-army so have made something quite easily 🙂 Not ideal but I’m still alive and I’m kicking, I’m not giving up and I’m going to get into [treatment] somehow!”

 


 

email from CAC (day 52): “Got my Hope painting today, wow it is amazing much better than I expected, I thought it would be nice but it has blown me away, the colours are fab and go so well in my “blue room”, I am going to have it framed but I don’t think I will put any glass in it. Many thanks for it, it is ace xxx.”

belle. selling hope since 2012.
this is Hope #23. link.