this is something i should actively pursue

email from minttea (day 111): “I still definitely sometimes push too hard and then crash — but I’m a little more conscious of that pattern now than I used to be, so I try to be more mindful of how things will affect my energy level and overwhelm level when I’m scheduling things out. Sometimes it’s unavoidable, but there’s a lot that I CAN control when I’m paying attention. Aside from accountability and your general delightfulness, I think that the biggest lesson/gift I’ve gotten from you is that taking time to rest/relax/take care of myself isn’t just something I can give myself “permission” for or “allow” in my life, but something that I should actively pursue. There’s a lot of language about self-care type stuff that still has some veiled judgement to it. If I have to give myself “permission” to rest or relax, that still carries with it a hint of negative connotation. Like, why do I need permission for it? It’s actually something I should seek out. It’s something that should be a given in my life that I fiercely protect. No one ever says we should give ourselves permission to do chores, or go to work, or pay our bills. And yet we need permission to get enough sleep, take time to do things that make us happy, enrich ourselves with travel and new experiences, or give ourselves treats for being awesome and sober? Nope, no permission needed =)”

[update: she’s on day 138 today]

[and i used Minttea’s email (sort of) as the basis of a facebook live video here]


new painting posted

This is painting #418

now this one has an interesting story. last summer, when i first started to post the paintings on the site (august 2018), mr.belle had painted a few extras so that we’d have some to put up while travelling to canada. but once we got to montreal (and then vermont, and then RI and CT), it became very clear that we wouldn’t have enough. i mean, one day in particular, every painting i posted sold within minutes to a total of SEVEN in one day! so in the dumpy rental apartment in montreal, above the sex shop, mr.belle pulled back the carpet, spread out newspaper, and got to work. This painting below is, I think, the very last Montreal painting. So it was created in Montreal, came back to Paris, travelled to Tennessee in May for the art show, back to Paris, and I just photographed it 11 minutes ago on the balcony while it’s still cool outside.

and now it’s ready for you.

(p.s., on the back it says MTL in addition to the signature and the painting number)


link here >

~ hugs from me


small notes about summer #3, #4 & #5

small notes about summer #3

so you will decline some of the invitations to some of the summer events. people want to go for a hike, that’s fine. They want you to sit around in their yard and watch them get hammered? not so much. You can attend every second event. You can arrive late and leave early. You can (for sure) go in your own car so that you can leave when you’re ready. You can take a replacement drink with you to avoid the tepid tap water on offer. You can show up with some fuck-you wolfie lemonade and then see how many people want to try it because it looks so good.


this painting is available at auction. HIGH BID is $5!!

link here

small notes about summer #4

when you drift from your sober supports, the voice in your head gets louder. It’s like an early warning system. you hear the wolfie voice, you go back to your sober stuff. listen to an audio, read a post. when you drift, the alarm will start to ring. make sure you listen to it. and don’t let wolfie tell you you’re too busy to be ‘sober’ today. not true. you being sober is how you have your best possible day today.

small notes about summer #5

small sober treats, something every two days, and you frame it like this:  this is my treat for being sober, because this shit is hard and i rock.

bubble bath
nice pens
smoked salmon
pickled onions
kindle book
nail polish
new wrench
screwdriver with changeable ends (they have a fancier name than this; we called mine “the intensely useful item”)
posh makeup
shitty cheap makeup
getting a photo printed on real photo paper
new socks
replacing your towels, are you kidding, do you think i can’t see them from here?
corn on the cob

Photos: Doors

Photography Assignment: Doors

The goal for this assignment was to take a photo of a door.

Thanks to everyone who sent in pictures, this post is now closed to new submissions.

 This post is now closed to new submissions.



small notes about summer #1 & #2

small notes about summer #1

alcohol is not required. not for summer. not for winter. not for fridays. not for sunday afternoons. that you have a brain that thinks that drinking is a good idea, is wolfie. and you know what? wolfie will MAKE UP reasons, to make drinking seem like a good idea, including the weather. oh look it’s snowing? drink. oh look it’s summer? drink. all untrue. drinking is not required for any event. for any weather. for any day. when you hear from wolfie, you can remind him that he’s a bastard anus. tell him i said so. tell him i said that it gets easier as you go along, too. tell him that.


this painting is available at auction. opening bid $5.
three days to bid. short auction 🙂

small notes about summer #2

that voice in your head (wolfie) is an equal-opportunity offender. he has the ability to take any nice situation (beach, pool, bbq) and suggest it would be NICER if you poured alcohol on your head. As if adding an anaesthetic, mis-remembering the evening, tripping, bruising, crappy sleeping, and a hangover is any part of fun. You know what makes a pool, bbq, beach nicer? Being able to remember it. Waking up in the morning and feeling proud of yourself. That.

so for this painting, i figured i could write a secret message and then cover it up with paint …
you’ll know there’s an extra, private, meaning under there. just for you.

NOTE: The word ‘HOPE’ will be added to this painting tomorrow, after it is dry.

link > hope 19
size is 10″ x 10″ (25 cm x 25 cm)
acrylic on hand-cut 3 mm card
belle. selling hope since 2012

#dryJuly Day 4 – Audio

happy day 4 🙂
Dear you:
You don’t drink on July 4th. You don’t drink on Thursdays and this is just another Thursday.

Because pouring a depressant on your head isn’t fine. It’s not congruent with how you say you live your life. It’s not you taking care of you.

To hear this short audio message, press the blue button below. Nothing to download. Just press play.


Links mentioned:

audio podcast subscription >

sober party bingo > link

most popular videos

I’ve been recording Facebook Live videos, just about daily, since January.
and in the last couple of weeks, these ones have gotten more responses than others (who knows why!).

“I Needed Permission to Begin” > LINK

“I Was on the Phone with Facebook Today” > LINK

and this one recorded in Nashville about how being sober is like driving in the rain:
“How Long Until You Get Used To It?” > LINK

Facebook is not private, though, so you may want to decide if you’d like to “like” or leave a comment on the videos.


what if alcohol was a ‘place’

from me
when I was on day 12:

alcohol is like a place.  it’s where I go after dinner.  it’s where I go on vacation. it takes me to a tunnel of fuzzy numbness. it takes me away from here. it’s a place I go in my mind.

if alcohol was a place, I want to say now that I DON’T GO THERE ANYMORE.

i don’t go to the fuzzy, hiding, numb place. I don’t go to the artificially loud, thinking all of my jokes are hilarious, place. I don’t go to the place where i feel crummy the next day – both physically and emotionally.

I’m not sure all the time where i’m going instead, but not knowing — and occasionally feeling completely lost — has to be better than going THERE.


belle. selling hope since 2012. the Selling Hope paintings are now on the sober art page here >

the absolute truth

email from Bud: “Day 2. Sober. Feeling ok, a bit irritable but otherwise not too bad. Got a decent night sleep and just have been trying to keep myself busy; my mind occupied so that I don’t think about drinking. I agree, those repetitive slips (some which become longer relapsed than others) are worrisome and proof that more focus needs to be put on my sobriety. It’s a big holiday next week (july 4th), I want to enjoy it like everyone else – and I can. It’s just about being conscious of what I can do and what I cannot do, like drink alcohol. I cannot drink like my peers. I can’t! Admitting that sucks sometimes, but it’s the absolute truth and there is no other way around it. So, despite the fact we have a little bit of a larger celebration in Philadelphia for july 4th than most cities here in the US, I will try to take it all in without a drink. But I’ll worry about that when it comes. Until then, perhaps a meeting tonight. I feel good, albeit a tad uncomfortable. But I’d take this over being drunk any day.”


shameless commercial link.  gaah. i was asked ‘where can i see YOUR paintings’ and i’m like i’m not the artist, he is. and i don’t want to take away from him. the page on the site is for his stuff. this sounds like false modesty. but i legitimately feel weird about painting (at all), and about sharing it (ever), and then to show the ones that have been purchased?


i know. even when i read this over, it sounds smarmy. ok. here’s the absolute truth. i’ve posted my hope paintings to the sober art page, but i will probably take them down again. and i can’t figure out how to organize the page (available, sold, his, mine). i tried something this morning ( but will probably change my mind in an hour 🙁

and i will bristle at comments like ‘but you ARE an artist’, so be warned.

[i’m trying to show honest awkwardness but (again) when i read this over, i think it isn’t coming across right. fuck.]

measure wine in a measuring cup?

from my inbox:

AJ (day 116): “Belle, I got an email today from one of the sober organizations I subscribed to on sober attempt #1 last year (Club Soda or Hello Monday Morning, already can’t remember which). They shared a story about “successful moderation” … and against my gut, I clicked on the story …

It told the story of a woman who drank too much, then cut back … She just forced herself to drink less! … Wolfie woke up IMMEDIATELY, and said ”… You only tried moderation once, really …”

But as I read along in her story, what struck me next—and thank fuck this even managed to strike me in my article-reading-pity-party—was how much she had to *think about drinking* … I felt sorry for how hard she has to work to moderate. Then suddenly, like lightning, your ENTIRE PLATFORM made such clear sense on a different level than ever before—you…Belle…another real woman who exists in the world…got fucking tired of THINKING about drinking. I guess I always knew what you meant by that phrase, but this article about another woman who has set up her entire life around THINKING about drinking, analyzing her drinking, struggling against herself…it showed me the reverse side of your writings, the ugly opposite image. She took a path you *could* have chosen, after all…to struggle forever…but I’m gonna stay Team Belle on this one. It feels like such an easy choice. Compared to the alternative, being sober IS the “easy way out”…and then the Exit paintings made even more sense…I basically had like 30 straight minutes of my mind being blown. Sobriety IS sort of the easy way out?? Maybe not all days, but more and more, most days. (The bad days still suck lots, of course.)

And so more thought vomit…I’m not only sober from a substance now…I’m also mercifully abstaining from having to measure my wine in a measuring cup(that is NOT a cool thing to do at a party…plain tonic is way cooler than that!), and always feeling slighted…always wanting more…always making the same fucking hard decisions every day.

The poor woman in that story is an absolute slave to her obsessive alcohol measuring rituals and her thoughts, counting drinks, desires for more…clamping down on the mental and physical cravings just as they show their ugly faces after a couple drinks.

NO THANKS to that.

That said, when I know an article will likely shake me up, I probably should not open it…but I’m glad I did today… Thanks for reading that heap of thoughts…my next email will be much more respectfully concise…AJ”

[update: she’s on day 251 today]


Feedback from subscribers:

sobersparkles (day 197): “I wish these organisations would pull their head out of their proverbial and realise how irresponsible, and unhelpful, it is to share and email like that with their audience.”

me: it turns out the people running these organizations aren’t actually sober people 🙁


many thanks to the Exit paintings, to my husband, to you for offering to bring the paintings into your home. To say that the Exit paintings ‘saved’ us after a very bad run-in with the french visa people last year, would be the truth. someone asked mr.belle this direct question at the tennessee art show: did the paintings ‘save’ you? and he said yes.

this one can be personalized with whatever word you’d like. s’elever, grace, Exit.

painting here.


slow or no

We have two choices. We either have slow, incremental progress, or we’re going down the elevator. We’re either slowly improving bit by bit, or we’re going backwards and going down. There’s no fast progress, so you can remove the option of fast progress. Not an option. It doesn’t exist. And that you push-push-push and try to get it, is sort of like a fast track to going backwards, having a u-turn, having a new day one.
So here’s where you’re sitting. Look at it. You have the option of going forward — slowly. Improving incrementally slowly. Or you have the option of fucking it up, adding on too many goals, pushing too hard, having a new day one, finding it difficult to get off the booze elevator, having the elevator go down.
As far as I can see, those are the only two choices and so I pick slow. I pick slow. It’s either slow or no. There’s no fast. There’s no over-pushing. There’s no overdoing it.
There’s either slow or no.


painting 459, ready for personalization.
what word would you like?
Exit, Hope, Open, Potential … s’élever, Sortie, Grace …

painting here.