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.


decide from the place of sunshine

email from E: “I think my biggest fear about being long-term sober is that as long as I’m drinking, I won’t ever have the life I really want or deserve. But I’m not trying to get that life, so I don’t need to feel bad about not having it.

What if I quit drinking, and work hard, and focus and really try! What if after all that I still don’t have the life I want and deserve. Despite everything I still might not be enough. And that is the scariest, saddest thought I have ever had.

I haven’t committed to being sober yet. But I will. Soon. I love your emails, they really help me to feel less alone.”

me: And what if you quit drinking and your life is improved … You’re not obliged to live in the sunshine and roses of sobriety if you get there and decide you don’t like feeling relieved and happy. I know that the sunshine looks impossible. Instead, though, you can go to the sunshine and THEN decide if it’s worth it. Decide from the place of sunshine. hugs


disclaimer: i know jack shit. i have written a sober book which is even more hilarious because i can only write about my experience and that’s a pretty weird thing. we think our drinking stories are unique (well, i do), and then in the telling we realize that we have more the same than we do different. Quote from the book:

It starts at 3 a.m., wake up, roll over, not too quickly or the nausea will start. Try to be still, flat on your back. Hot. Thirsty. Headache. Take a small sip of water as a trial, to see how this is going to go. Not well. Shift in the bed again. Why is it so hot in here. Then cold. One foot out from under the blanket — oh it’s no use, the room has started to move.

shameless commercial link. written by SouthernMagnolia1013:
“I have been sober for 270 days. That’s 270 days of still getting excited about reading your emails that come in. In the beginning I subscribed to your sober podcast-lesson thingy. I loved the podcasts. They were my go-to for certain nights before I went to bed. It was part of my routine. Then my momentum was going so well and I  thought I would take a break from the podcasts and I unsubscribed.

You know, I ended up missing listening to those podcasts where I got to hear really encouraging words and thoughts and stories that related exactly to ME. It’s like you were making the podcast lessons just for me. So I decided to resubscribe and am so glad that I did. I am still learning new things about sobriety that I never realized before. I also like that it’s my little way of hitting up that tiny gift button. You deserve a fat paycheck for ALL of the time you spend helping others. So when that day comes when my bank account is overflowing and I am fortunate enough to give out yearly contributions to my favorite charity or organization, I am putting your name at the top of my list. In the meantime I’ll just have to thank you by subscribing to the weekly podcasts :)”

[update: she’s on day 1664]

thursday links

things you may have missed
(you should click every one of these links):

  • audio about how drinking-thinking is different from sober-thinking. and your drinking-thinking is probably going to OBJECT to ideas suggested that have to do with being sober > click link here
  • what if i fail? if you’re afraid to begin, if your wolfie voice is really loud, if you think it’s all gonna suck … then you can watch this facebook video (you don’t have to be signed into FB or like the page to watch it) > click link here
  • when you’re worried about fitting in, and not having the right shoes > click link here
  • i’ve had this tab open in my desktop browser for 4 months, but it’s too expensive to actually buy > click link here
  • i’ve been accused of “selling hope” since 2012. now i’m painting hope. these hope paintings are done by me, not by le husband > hope 16
  • husband’s ‘Exit’ art. if booze is an elevator that only goes down, you get off and you stay off. find the exit, the opening. get out and stay out > mr.belle’s gallery page here

of course it can help

from me:

Look, if you’re not yet continuously sober, you will read my list of suggested sober tools, and you’ll say “that’s very nice, Belle, but I can’t just add “order take-out” to my list of tools and expect it to help.”
Yes, you can. You can because it’s one way of reducing overwhelm.
If we have a bizarre, unfortunate, unforgiving, and heinous combination of a lack of self-soothing techniques, a sensitive disposition, a tendency to be overwhelmed, and a stubborn pride, then yes, giving up making dinner for the first several weeks of being sober CAN help. Of course it can.
Because it all can help.
Every piece is a puzzle piece, fills a hole. Wolfie is standing at the door, waiting to huff and puff. He’s looking for gaps around the window.
Ordering dinner, or asking your teenager to make jarred sauce with fresh pasta, or asking your 10 year old to make toaster waffles and Cheerios – yes, this can help.
Let’s dissect this.
You ask your kids to make dinner. “Mummy has been doing a lot and she needs a bit of a vacation. And it’s time for you to become more adult, bit by bit, anyway. Kid 1 you’re in charge of Tuesday, and Kid 2 you’re Thursday.”
Now. You’ve asked the kids to make dinner. How does this help with being sober?
     You’ve involved other people. You’ve asked for help. You share responsibilities. You know that other people won’t do it as well as you, but so what. You go to bed during this time and listen to a sober audio while Kid 1 (the 10 year old) pours Cheerios on the floor, drags out the vacuum, impresses you with her culinary skills which include slicing a banana onto the cereal.
OK yes, it’s the special banana you were saving for the special cake. But you know what? There are more bananas in the store.
Get over it.


K says: “I think you do a wonderful thing Belle and I LOVE that you started to interfere with Mr B’s paintings!!! That makes me smile! I’ve told my husband that I shall be adding fireflies to his art too very soon. Following a momentary pause, he said… “Oh”  Lol xx”

from me:
add some life, a few oxygen bubbles perhaps, or maybe they’re fireflies, little bursts of brightness.
   s’élever is french for “to go up’ or to rise up, but it’s also a reflexive verb … rise YOURSELF up.


link >

link >

the pattern is actually this

email from Ri:
“Sober today. Day one.
Same pattern repeated this weekend.
40ish days sober … Drink.
I know. I can hear you, Belle. You’re thinking:
‘The pattern is actually this:
Supports & tools.
Podcasts & OMM’s.
Treats & emails.
Celebrate 30 days sober!
Stop reaching out for support.
No need for tools & treats.
Make excuses to miss meetings.
Send fewer emails.


from me:
it was a very strange weekend, where i took one of my husband’s paintings and said “i want to add some life to this, some sparkle.” I did use the word effervescence but he didn’t know what that meant (and i didn’t know how to say it in french). i said “signs of life, little bubbles like deep sea diving.”
and it takes a very patient man, to let his wife DRAW on his paintings. and then she makes tee-hee noises, and posts the painting, and people comment. and then she gloats about being a genius. and he is amused but not convinced. and then she does it again.

BP: “Love it! I see pops of unexpected, just like being sober — those moments, new thoughts, new ways to live that just show up and you’re like wow, yes!!”

Sarita: “I LOVE it! I see little oxygen bubbles rising up — coming back to life!”

link >

link >

Solstice to Solstice 2019

From Sober in Richmond (The Solstice Guy): “I started my 100 Day challenge on the Solstice [and am celebrating 4.5 years sober on June 21st] … If there is anyone out there who needs some motivation to start – perhaps they can do the Solstice to Solstice. It really helped me to have the power of the whole darn earth behind me rather than a day or date on a calendar … It’s an incredibly magical thing, the Solstice to Solstice!”

Imagine it’s the longest day of the year (Friday, June 21st in the northern hemisphere). Imagine you’re sober. June 21st can be your Day 1 or maybe it’s your Day 50. Or 400. Doesn’t matter. Can you see yourself sober on December 21st? Winter Solstice. Stand here. Look ahead 180 days. Because if you think the view from day 100 is great, wait until you see 180 days.

  • If you’d like to be sober from Solstice to Solstice, you can put a comment below.
  • Audios to listen to for Solstice to Solstice? Receive one archived podcast every 2 days for 180 days. That’s 90 audios in total, starting with SP001 Accepting Help all the way to SP090 Magical Time. Audios discounted 40%
  • Audios to listen to for Solstice to Solstice? Here is the link for pack #2, audios SP091 to SP180. One new audio lesson every two days for 180 days. Audios discounted 40%

I like the idea of having the ‘whole darn earth behind me’ – how about you?

i have the choice to listen or not

email from Lars: “Yes, day 17! I realized today that it’s my special lady time, so no wonder I’ve felt weird for a couple days! It’s funny how oblivious I can be at times. I had some real pangs yesterday, but I went for a walk, made dinner, and played cards with my beau and through all those steps I lost those pangs to drink. I keep making deals with myself, ‘after 100 days you can, but until then you are not drinking.’ I want to complete your challenge, and if I decide drinking is what I want after that, then fine, I can reassess then.

I feel a bit directionless today, though there isn’t any logical reason to. I’m getting used to having these illogical thoughts come up, and I’m practicing dismissing them. Why do we tell ourselves all kinds of harmful lies? It isn’t helpful. I’m realizing I have the choice to listen to them or not. This whole dealing with real life thing feels a bit strange, but it’s really empowering. I have conversations with my guy, those tough and weighted conversations that used to always end in pointless arguments, and when I have my wits about me I don’t get upset over things that I used to. I’ve been such a burdened and burdensome person to live with for so long, it feels good to not have to worry about the small stuff (that would inevitably get blown out of proportion). I get to enjoy my life now, and I get to enrich others lives, too. Even on a low-energy day like today, I’ll take that reality over a hazy one any day! -Lars”

[update: she’s on day 721 today]

from me:
the story starts like this:
i says to him, i says: “can i paint on your painting?”
“cuz i think it’s too dark and it needs some hope and effervescence.”
he doesn’t know what effervescence means (i’m speaking in english, and i don’t know the french word). so i say, “tonic bubbles? hope? signs of life?”
Or maybe you see fireflies…
Anyway, this was our first ‘joint’ painting, which is to say i took it and painted on it and he didn’t kill me …
what must it be like to be married to me.
i’m certain that this will work, i tell him. i’m certain that the mixture of both our ideas will add more layers. there’s strength and hope in the same painting. he nods. he’s not sure. i am sure. i’m sure someone will buy it today, i say. which isn’t about the money, of course, it’s about me being right. which is more important … did i mention how much fun it must be to be married to me? your ideas welcomed. do you see snow, tonic bubbles, signs of life (deep sea diving), or little peeps of fireflies?so then painting #457 with the little fireflies / bubbles is purchased, and heading off to Minneapolis on Monday.
I say to mr.b, “see, i’m a genius.”
and he’s like, “not really…  you’re a genius in other ways, but not in this way.”
and i’m like, “yes i am. i’ll prove it. i’ll take one of the paintings that’s been on the site for 3 weeks and i’ll firefly-it-up. and then you’ll see.”
he made me a cup of decaf, patted me on the head, and said, “at least you’re having fun.”
(this is how we entertain ourselves on saturday afternoons. i made chocolate cake with homemade cherry sauce, he cleaned his studio. we had a nap. then i add signs of life to his paintings …)

BP: “Love it! I see pops of unexpected, just like being sober — those moments, new thoughts, new ways to live that just show up and you’re like wow, yes!!”

Sarita: “I LOVE it! I see little oxygen bubbles rising up — coming back to life!”

link >

link >

that’s what addiction is. it’s a head that lies to us.

from my inbox:

bluesparkles (day 0):  “FUCK I hear you Belle. It just seems so damn boring and exhausting without the buzz of wine to keep the night going. I don’t know what to do instead. I mean, I do, and i’ve done it, but I’ve forgotten the past few weeks since i’ve been back at school and it’s ramped up the tension and need for release. I am so goddamn sick of thinking about it.
Belle, if I could tell you all the things that are running through my mind every day with school, the three kids, my job which is filled with children, colleagues, the new fire pit in our backyard so my hubby and i can enjoy a date night at home since we don’t have any damn help – well firepits don’t seem that fun with just coffee and creamer. I bought decaf coffee and creamer just for that reason, but it’s more fun with wine. and I hate that. Hate hate hate. I can do a trillion strong ass things, give birth, deal with marriage stuff, family serious health things, I don’t want to deal with one more damn thing – i.e. giving up something that relaxes me. does that make sense? I feel like your response is going to be unintentionally condescending because it’s just not that easy to find other sober supports and treats in the midst of life.”

me: I know that I will be unintentionally condescending when I say that you being sober is a big deal, for you, for the kids, and for feeling proud of yourself. if you’re missing out on a ‘buzz’ then yes, you can find it in other ways. you’re here [reading this, emailing] because on some level you know that you’re drinking more than you want to be. it’s not easy to find sober supports. but I’m here, and you can be emailing me 4 times a day. you could listen to the audios and set up calls with me. you have a voice in your head that tells you that alcohol makes things better. that’s what addiction is. it’s a head that lies to us. and on some level you know this. that’s why you’re emailing me. to ask me to say this. so I will 🙂 hugs


​you enter into a new space, a new phase of life.
you go into new territory.
you enter a new you 🙂



if you’re happy, then something’s wrong

from my inbox:

zenmeg: “I am very good. Thanks for checking in. I have been benefiting from a recent sober revelation – an old hobby. Knitting has burst back into my life like a long lost friend. So good to be reunited again … i am reveling in how lovely it feels to be happy as pie and not feel the urge to drink away that happiness. Being happy and staying happy and learning how to be comfortable with sheer happiness has been a BIG part of me embracing sobriety.  I think I was raised with some sort of underlying vibe of “if you’re happy, then something’s wrong.” I remember having a conversation with my mom where we were scoffing at people who seemed carefree and happy – saying there must be something wrong with them or that they’re not taking life seriously enough. My mom was the eldest of 7 kids and her parents were alcoholics. She pretty much raised her siblings and never got a chance to live her own life or acknowledge her own feelings or even learn how to feel; she’s never been to therapy to deal with all the crap that has been hanging on her since her childhood. So surely she has passed some of her baggage onto me. Thankfully I’ve seen a few different therapists over the years. So this happiness thing is fabulous. I even cry sometimes b/c I am so happy.

How are you? Love reading your emails and blogs and anything you send out. You’re on to something here. Wait until Oprah hears about you.”




NEW – Where are they now? Sober support paintings …

North Carolina






New Jersey

The train was like a zoo without containment, running wild.

from my inbox:

A: “I’m on day 17 today, I went out to xx with my husband to watch a show at the theatre. The evening was jam packed full of triggers for me – a child-free evening out, a trip on the train with a buffet car, a venue with a bar, an interval promoting time to drink and people everywhere holding drinks … I held a bottle of water.

My senses were on high alert and in that moment my Wolfie was saying ‘why can’t you do what these people are doing? Why shouldn’t you? You deserve it, just because you drink tonight doesn’t mean you will drink tomorrow. Go on, let your hair down!
It didn’t spoil my night but it was definitely with me throughout the event. This was, until the moment we reached the train station to return home.

Suddenly I was on the other side of ‘it’, like some kind of parallel world switch had been struck. What is the ‘it’ that I was in the otherwise of? Well the station and train was packed with drunk people. People swaying, slurring, shouting and obliterated through drink. People who were looking for trouble. Girls hardly dressed and throwing up, phones everywhere. People taking selfie after selfie whilst pouting or kissing strangers. There were elongated over-pitched shrieks and bodies falling in the aisles.
The train was like a zoo without containment, running wild. I could not believe what I was seeing and hearing and then realisation dawned; this was me in the past … I definitely remember behaving that way and not giving a shit who saw me and I never gave a thought that my drunken behaviour might be a tad excessive.

…The point I’m trying to make is this unruly zoo on the 22:02 train from xx were all symptoms of much much deeper issues for each and every single person on that train. I felt I could see inside some of them. Their despair, self loathing, lack of self compassion and care; and for me it was a lightbulb moment. I thanked goodness that I didn’t give in to Wolfie on that night. I could hold my head high, I felt proud of myself and oh so grateful that I was not that person anymore and I didn’t have to wake up with the hangover, the remorse, the empty purse, the shame or embarrassment.

So the next time my Wolfie pipes up I’m going to try to conjure the image of that wild zoo and remind myself that they are the reason why I’m on the right tracks.

This was my first sober night out in years. It was hard but if I can do it, anyone can.

Thanks for listening, A.”



NEW – Where are they now? Sober support paintings …

British Columbia
North Carolina
New Jersey