I can control what I do today to help myself

email from MelMel (day16):

“Hi Belle, I feel a bit better this morning. I figure it’s all like this COVID-19 – I don’t have any control over it. But I DO have control over myself.  I can’t control what damage I’ve done already with my drinking, but I can control what I do today to help myself. The virus is similar to drinking: in order to assure these two things don’t kill me, I will follow the experts which includes WHO, the CDC, and Belle. The guidelines and sober advice. The government rules and 100 days no alcohol. I will also follow  the precautions and being aware of prelapse. These are the things I can control  in order to keep the virus and booze away from me. I will immediately reach out should I feel sick or the need to drink. I will take this time to mend my body and calm my mind. I will remind myself that thinking about doomsday catastrophic events that have not happened, are not helpful to me or anyone. I certainly wouldn’t go to a place where I know the virus would  infect me, just as certainly I wont go and consume alcohol with the intent to infect me. That’s my ‘everything is like everything’ for today! Ha!!”

[update: she’s on day 29 today]


Grace when times are hard. Kindness to yourself and others. Taking care of you.

new painting posted
this is #602: Grace
link here > www.artsober.com

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

see this new painting here > www.artsober.com

~ hugs from me (and him)


sunday audio. something has to change

this week’s sunday audio is about changing things to get different results. imagine you were cold and wanted to get warm. would you remove the blankets that you already have, or would you add new blankets—new layers of supports?  being sober is just like this. adding layers of things to get new outcomes. in this audio i talk about something i read this week by Sean McCabe on the subject of habits and outcomes, and how it maps exactly to how we can change our approach to being sober.

show notes:

  • the blog post about habits by Sean McCabe (seanwes). link here
  • the music, “Ibiza Dream,” thanks to Chris Haugen. link here
  • the photo for ‘adding blankets of support’ thanks to The Bees. link here
  • the unedited version of today’s audio, where i talk about ‘across the pond’, my plans for an extended rant, and the idea of naming these audios ‘clutch/fart’ will be sent in its entirety to podcast subscribers. link here



original art, thanks to mr.belle
you have potential when you’re sober
this is a close-up of painting #589
click link here


this is an extract from the longer sober podcast “Episode 218: Bored.” Someone asked me to talk about what boredom in sobriety means, and what to do with your time. Like, how do you deal with having an empty evening?


  • Get more one minute messages on iTunes (apple podcasts) > link
  • Get more audios on Stitcher > link
  • or search for ‘Belle Sober Message’ on whatever podcast platform you use
  • Get the full audio for the Bored podcast episode #218 here > link ($4.99)


painting 732

if booze is an elevator that only goes down, then you look for the exit. and you get off, and stay off. and in some parts of the world, the signage is different. it doesn’t say ‘exit’ – it says ‘way out’ …
link > www.artsober.com

link > www.artsober.com

from me: 8 things i discovered in a short period of time

from me:

husband was away for 36 hrs (thursday to friday), which allowed me to focus on myself without distractions. the things that i can discover in this very short period of time are … well, they’re large. a large number of large-emotionally-space-taking things.

1. i’m not lonely when i’m alone, i’m pretty self-contained and can entertain myself quite happily without input.

2. i go to bed earlier. 8:30 pm in fact, reading, and then was asleep by 9:30 pm and slept 10 hrs. When he’s here, we eat later, we watch a one-hour show. he likes to finish the show, whereas i can turn it off part-way if i’m tired. he will stop if i ask, i just don’t ask.

3. the eating-late thing is from inertia. i’m waiting for him to start, he’s waiting for me (or not). i’m hoping i won’t have to cook at all if it gets too late … and while he was away? I pulled vegetarian lasagne sauce out of the freezer, the kind he doesn’t like with capers, and had that over pasta, cooked enough for two servings so i’d have an easy lunch the next day, and then – wait for it – did the dishes while the pasta was boiling.

4. when he’s not here, i experiment more, worried that i am (apparently) of the judgement of even one person i guess, didn’t notice this before, makes me try safer stuff? anyway, i made my regular banana bread (cake) recipe with a chocolate cookie base layer, and mixed in a half cup of homemade cranberry sauce into the batter. and it was quite lovely. (how could it not be.)

5. i ate and then put dishes in the dishwasher. i didn’t wait for him to load/unload. i just did it. the mental energy spent deciding to do it or not was removed. (deciding to drink/not drink every day is harder than saying having none.) when it’s just you, you do the dishes. when there’s two people (if you’re like me) you’re waiting. (when it’s just you in your head, you’re sober. when there’s you and an active wolfie, you’re negotiating.)

6. when he’s here, i ask what his plans are for the weekend and then build around him. he doesn’t ask me to do this. and he doesn’t do this for me. like today he’s working for the morning (since he was away), and then we have a new-apartment viewing (the 4th one so far, all with no luck – so far). so now that i know he’s working, i look at the time, judge what i can do in that time. so far i’ve done none of it, mind you. i’m here writing to you AND i watched 30 minutes of cake decorating videos on youtube. i can watch them for hours. but actually ice a cake? too messy to experiment. and then i’d have to eat the cake … and we don’t have the same ingredients here so it wouldn’t work out, oh how i LONG to live in a place with all-purpose flour again. if you’re from the UK and you don’t know what that is, go to google and look it up. go to the King Arthur Flour website or the Robin Hood one while you’re there …)

7. When he’s not here, i take down the nice fairy lights in the living room, hang them in the bedroom, open the bedroom window to sleep (!), and read for an hour to finish the quite-ok-not-booker-prize-y new margaret atwood book. (when he comes home, he says the light isn’t bright enough to read (on his side of the bed, which was true), and he hasn’t noticed yet that i’ve opened the window but later i’m sure it’ll be closed again. he’s a little bird that way, easily cold. whereas i’m a 53 year old woman. nuff said.)

8. when he’s gone for an hour, i sort of wait for him to come home. when he’s gone for longer, i get on with things. (when you quit drinking for a day it’s harder than quitting for longer. when it’s longer, you settle into it. you do. really.)

so today, on this saturday, i’d like to find the release catch that opens the setting that allows me to behave like he’s away all the time, even when he’s here.

you can relate?


s’élever means to rise up, to raise yourself up. i like how the root of the word elevator is in there. and i like that it’s in french, like my guy is, he who is the maker of the art.
this is painting #588 here > link


when you get your shit together

New Chris: ” A major thing that happened to me, that I wanted to share with you. While I was drinking, I did a huge amount of damage to my relationships with my husband and kids. The one that took the biggest hit was my son (turns 18 today). He would do nothing but give me dirty looks, which then made me feel even worse about myself than I already did. Not that I’m blaming him by any means. Anyways, I’m coming up on 2 years sober now and although it took time and patience, I’m finally making quite a bit of progress with him.

Last week, for no reason, he left me a note, and some flowers, thanking me for my help with getting him set up for college, and everything else I do. Followed by “I love you”. That meant the fricking world to me. He started college this week, so it’s kind of hard adjusting to having him gone, but I am SOOOO thankful that I finally stopped the drinking when I did, and I actually had time to repair things before he left. Yeah, I will always regret the wasted years that could have been so much better. I so wish I could change that. But I can’t. But I can keep moving forward and be the person and mom I knew I always could be from now on.

It’s pretty fucking amazing what happens when you get your shit together. Thank you for all you do for us. New Chris”


hugs from me to you. this is a medium-sized magnet, 2.5″ x 2.5″,  mr.b signed the back. this is #411.

medium magnet 411 > link

the story of the magnets?
they’re based on the paintings that my husband does – www.artsober.com – with sober messages. And each magnet is cut from a larger painting on thick cardstock, so you’re sharing part of it with other sober people all over the world. for example, the person who bought #410 next to this one lives in Florida …

throwing wine over my brain

Growing Sober Sarah: “Why would I want to throw away all the great stuff I have learned and done in the last 28 days just in case I have miraculously learned to be normal about drinking? The last time I could moderate successfully was around 18 years ago and even before that, I always wanted more — even if I didn’t actually have any?

I have a past pattern of potentially addictive and certainly obsessive behaviour, some times it has helped me (work, exams, getting stuff done) but other times no not so good. Also over compensating for feeling rubbish and fake by doing “more” in my work, my hobbies, my business, my everyday life. Trying to hide and make up for how broken and worthless I felt.

I’m not rubbish or damaged or broken or worthless. I had bad things done to me by bad or damaged people. I’m strong and capable and brave and talented – look how much I have achieved, despite feeling so very worthless! That’s not the life of a worthless person.
All that time throwing wine over my brain to make myself feel less, all the risky, addictive, obsessive stuff, trying to make me feel better and it didn’t fucking work.

Sobriety make me feel better. Not drinking alcohol, like not eating gluten or lactose, makes me feel better. Sober Treats when I am sad make me feel better (who would have guessed it? :)) Sober Treats when I am happy make me feel happier.
Listening to you makes me feel good. Reading your blog makes me feel good. Not drinking for 100 days will mean that, even after paying for your course, I will have enough money extra equivalent to the tax and insurance on  my car for a year (car already paid for and I’m going to spend that money on Sober Treats for me!) And it’s worth every penny, and more xxx

This turned into a rant. I’m not sorry. Love, a very happy Sober Sarah, about Day 28.”



you have potential when you’re sober. to take care of you. to do cool things. this is a large magnet, 3″ x 3″,  mr.b signed the back. this is #332. you like that number, don’t you?

magnet 332 > link


the story of the magnets?
they’re based on the paintings that my husband does – www.artsober.com – with sober messages. And each magnet is cut from a larger painting on thick cardstock, so you’re sharing part of it with other sober people all over the world. for example, the person who bought #409 next to this one lives in England …

i will need to play that role for myself

From IM: “We went on a mini family vacation this weekend. It sucked the life out of me for some reason. The first day was great until the evening came and we went for dinner. My husband ordered alcohol, he asked first and I initially said I would prefer he refrain, I then reluctantly said if you must. He had one and then proceeded to have another. Why did he need to have another? Why is this so bothersome? I felt like everywhere I looked there were opportunities for drinking. This was the first time we stayed in a hotel where we did not bring alcohol with us. The following day I was extremely exhausted, like I had been run over by a truck. I thought I was just tired from a lot of driving and an over-stimulating water park, but I then realized I was also at the end of my period which by the way was the most challenging I have had since children … The day we got home … as soon as my bags were in the house, I jumped into bed and slept for about four hours. I almost considered not going to work the next day because of how drained I felt. I am trying to process all the feelings I had and the emotions that overwhelmed me. Today was better and I am feeling a little more normal. I didn’t drink and I guess at this point that is really all that matters.”

me: “It sounds very tiring. you will know for future that you need to do less, to have more self-care and more ‘you’ time. if you’re tired or out of sorts, you just say so. If your husband wants to drink and you feel weird, you can ask him to wait until you’ve gone to bed. hopefully today you’re feeling more steady.

IM: “You are right! After much reflection it is quite clear I was not mentally prepared for this trip. How could I be, I didn’t know. The important thing is I know now and will be more aware of my mental state when planning for future outings. It was sort of like I was an infant again and I needed someone to take care of me. I needed someone to notice I was feeling overstimulated and overwhelmed. I needed someone to pick me up and hold me, someone to remove me from the stimuli and gently rock me and put me to sleep. The only piece missing from this equation is a dear sweet mother. I am guessing I will need to play that role for myself and I’ll need to learn how to do that. This is so much more complex than I anticipated. Most importantly I am still sober!”


you have potential when you’re sober. to take care of you. to do cool things. this is a large magnet, 3″ x 3″,  mr.b signed the back. this is #332. you like that number, don’t you?

magnet 332 > link


the story of the magnets?
they’re based on the paintings that my husband does – www.artsober.com – with sober messages. And each magnet is cut from a larger painting on thick cardstock, so you’re sharing part of it with other sober people all over the world. for example, the person who bought #409 next to this one lives in England …

HOW you do it is irrelevant and trivial

email from P (yesterday): “Shit. Reset me. Today is day 1 again. I’m glad that I made this decision to take Antabuse, but I’m also kind of disappointed that I can’t deal with Wolfie the way you did it. I’m sure that you felt a tremendous amount of empowerment that I just don’t feel right now. But that plan hasn’t worked for me lately. And I’m sure that as the sober days continue, I’ll rely more on my good decisions than the negative consequences of some drug that I’m on. I just have to be patient with myself and my own journey.”

my reply (yesterday): I can reset you. antabuse is a great medication. you can take it for a full year. and then get away from day 1 and feel way better.

wollfie will suggest that you compare your sobriety to mine or someone else’s.

the empowerment part comes in being sober, not in the HOW you’re sober. that confusion is definitely wolfie.

that’d be like saying “you must like your children better when you do natural childbirth in a cave alone instead of in a hospital with appropriate medication…”

that’d be like saying “you must like your marathon better because you did it crawling instead of walking.”

doesn’t matter HOW we do the things.

that’d be like saying “you must like your law degree more because you did it in 4 years instead of 5.”

bullshit 🙂  don’t let wolfie walk around in there with that kind of nonsense.

the goal is to be SOBER.
the HOW is irrelevant and trivial.
the goal is to be sober 🙂

hugs xo




an audio about your mood (and being sober!)

this is an extract from the live show i recorded on monday about managing our MOOD when sober. the full episode is being sent to podcast subscribers today and tomorrow.

from N: “I missed the live show – would love to catch up with it but I’m not currently subscribed to the podcasts. Is this something you might put up as a stand alone purchase?”

me: 🙂 well the live show was 2 hrs long, and so will be split into 3-4 podcasts. it might be cheaper to be a podcast subscriber than get them as singles. a subscription would give you 8-ish audios in a month and the subscription is only $26.21/month versus the stand alone price of $5 each (x 8 = $40) … huglets

update from yesterday’s email
When I sent out the email inviting you to read and stay plugged-in to your sober stuff, here are some of the replies:

  • My sobriety is important. I am important. Doing this one small thing every day keeps me motivated. Some days they help more than others. Some days, I think I am fine and I don’t need any help. But even then, the help never hurts. Other days, I find there is something in your message that turned out to be exactly what I needed to hear at that moment. Thank you for doing what you do, it helps many more than I think you realize.
  • I pledge to open every email from you and click on a link in each email between now and January 2. Because drifting is dumb … I’m going to remember that in terms of my sobriety the only thing that’ll change is my location during the holidays, so I do just the same things while I’m away as I do at home – all my sober supports and treats.
  • I am on day 2 and doing ok … I’m also caregiver to our 33-year-old daughter who has Cerebral Palsy. Stressful, so I’ve been drinking too much. Need to stop for her. Your daily inspiration really helps. Thanks for your unique insight and humor.
  • I will open every email you send with gratitude, from now until Jan 2nd, because it is fucking amazing knowing that someone cares enough about me to send daily emails, with links to sober supports. I will click on the links to those sober supports too, even if I don’t buy anything. Because I want you to know I appreciate you and I appreciate you reaching out to me by emails, I need these emails to remind me that what I’m doing is important.
  • I pledge to not only open but also read every line of every sober email that you send to me between now and January 2nd, 2039. If Belle cares enough to take the time to send them, then Heather will care enough to set up an alert on my phone with a special Belle ringtone alert when an email arrives from you. I will open and read your sober emails, not just preview them on my phone because there is no point in just previewing them, I wouldn’t see the whole encouragement and strength message that may come at just the right moment (this whole just the right message at just the right time thing occurs regularly), but also, by just previewing them, it could possibly be used by my bit of drinking head that still exists as an excuse to put snowshoes on and walk 10 miles to the nearest shop that sells booze. I have purchased 2 gig extra data to do this, as I am spending the season alone (dog is invited) in a log cabin in the mountains of North Wales… no wifi within 25 miles of me. I cannot guarantee a signal, but I will walk a maximum of 2 miles to find one- this is my Christmas effort gift to you. I also pledge to click and see where the mysterious link in each email will lead me to, but I cannot promise I will not buy anything. I want to show you Belle that i’m out there, in between the mountains on one side and the sea on the other side of me, relaxing alone, still sober even when I get mad when I will inevitably understand what I have been missing out on for the last 7 years. I’ll open and read your emails and click a link every day between now and January 2nd 2039. There is no reason whatsoever good enough on this fucking earth that I will happen to not be sober, so I am skipping that part of the pledge..but to make you happy, I will promise you that if for some stupid, made-up, idiotic and most likely death inducing reason i happen to not be sober, i will still open and read your emails to me and click on your link that you made an effort to provide everyday. Because I know that drifting from my sober supports is setting myself up on purpose, giving myself a slightly nudged open door to make up an excuse to drink; and not giving this babygirl the self love she deserves, and therefore, i will need to be engaged more. I owe it to myself first and foremost, and to you because of all of your efforts to try to get me to come to your side of the mountain to at least let you know that I’m still here. Still alive. Still sober.


“I have potential when i’m sober”
sober art, thanks to mr.belle

this is an original painting, so there’s only one copy available.

Iconic Moms Podcast – What’s Your Vice?


I was interviewed for the Iconic Moms podcast on November 23, 2019 by Alex, a very thoughtful. I am happy to be episode #17 on her new-ish show, and I think this interview is a good primer to learning about being sober. As well, I think that Alex is sharing brave things, as you’ll hear in this interview. To listen to other episodes of her show, you can go here.

This full interview will be sent to podcast subscribers.

But I want you to hear the whole audio NOW, even if you’re not a podcast subscriber.

So I’ve loaded the entire audio in the free audio feed (itunes/android).

[ link removed ]

The full audio will be available for 10 days. Go and listen to the first few minutes. Listen in installments. Or get a cup of tea and do it all at once. There’s something in here for you. I’m sure of it.

hugs and happy saturday



Something New (day 140): “Amazing how fast those magnets sell. I feel like it will be like winning a jackpot when one is available. I want one!!!! I particularly like the ones with the aqua color in them. He must be so happy!”

LARGE magnets
acrylic & ink, handcut card stock
7.5 x 7.5 cm (3″ x 3″)

magnet 276 > link
magnet 277 > link