Audio: Can You Buy Hope?

This audio was originally recorded for my audio podcast subscription thingy.

It’s called “Can You Buy Hope” and it starts with a complaint I received by email.

She says: “I have to ask, why are you SELLING sobriety? Why are you selling hope?”

Her comment was in response to a mini-sale I had on Saturday (which was only accessible to a very small segment of my mailing list as a test).

I’m sensitive to this subject of selling, and I’ve written about it before.

So I went ahead and recorded a podcast about hope. Can hope be bought (or sold)? Do all of our accomplishments come from the inside … or does an outside tool help us get stuff done?

I talk about swallowing cement, Tour de France cyclists, being a dry drunk and sobriety itself as a tool.

I’ve posted the entire 15 minute audio here and it’ll be available for 48 hrs.


click here to try a podcast subscription (1 month trial) – and of course, when you get bored of me, you can cancel whenever you want

Here are some comments from podcast subscribers:

Paulita: “I don’t know if you are selling hope Belle. You’re being a life-line, a listening ear (and you DO listen), a cheerleader, an encourager. That’s all free. The ‘glitter’ (the care packages, the podcasts, the jewellery) is optional and if I want I can treat myself to some of that and other things too (flowers, nice cups, chocolate – whatever I want). I’m learning to be kind to myself through you. I’m badly expressing what i want to say but I don’t think you are peddlin’ hope or selling sobriety. In fact I have MORE money since I ‘met’ you :)”

Rollerskate: “Therapy, personal trainers, coaches, feng shui experts who people pay to literally move their furniture around….all in hope of being happier…better. Just hoping that you’ll get better is of value. People earn money and spend money on things. Would it be better to keep spending money on sabotaging yourself (booze) or to buy a little bracelet [or audio] that empowers you to stay healthy? And your blog is free! Podcasts, okay, trinkets and treats okay. Worth paying for because hey, you’re working to encourage folks and they like and need it. So yay for you! And for your friends and all us supporters :-)”

C: “I get what your emailer is saying. That the experience of hope, or growth, is something we have to accomplish and sustain on our own, so the idea that you are selling it is a bit of a low blow. I think a lot of self help programs prey on this. They diagnose your problem, and sell you the cure … I don’t think hope is what is being sold, exactly, and this is a fine line. I don’t recall having to buy anything to do your 100 day challenge. I chose to sign up for the podacast, etc, but it was not required. So are we talking about selling for actual money, or just the idea that you are speaking from a POV of authority on a subject, i.e. “selling” the idea?  Back to the point, I think what is being sold is encouragement and infrastructure. If people derive hope from that, that is their experience. And in my experience it is essential .. we all need help, all the time … But what is the greater good? Who knows… you just turn and ask your heart what is right. If you don’t want the service, don’t buy it. Being a public person, people will build up expectations around what you are doing, so it is good that your intentions and parameters are clear going in. Then people can decide for themselves. I could go on, and think I won’t.”

Clara: “Just listened to podcast #54 and I say keep selling hope. Please. I feel connected to others because of this. This is the only place where someone knows what “day” I’m on, where someone knows i have quit drinking and I am changing. Where it feels like someone gives a damn.”

L: “You don’t just sell hope. You do sell cheerleading and you do it for a price I can afford – we could use more of that in the world. Your time and thoughtfulness is what we’re paying for and your experience; you think about all of us with your packages, podcasts.  The fact that you keep adding content that is relevant is really a special talent. Due to the stigma, some of us can’t talk to anyone about our habit for fear of losing our jobs/license if we were to discuss our effort to get healthier and overcome a chronic habit. Rehab is largely inaccessible to the majority of people financially/time wise, and I hate the idea of the AA crap, those are some really bitter bastards in general.  I was a numb-aholic too. Many of us in your audience can’t talk to our colleagues, nor our friends or family either b/c of the stigma and the collective acceptance of alcohol and the perception that we don’t have a problem, it is our secret battle.  No one else is there for me thru this thing.  No one.  Belle, this is the perfect tool for those of us quietly trying to get better! And it’s working. It’s like a miracle to me.  I can’t thank you enough, you make this affordable and my health and happiness (my old self) is worth more money than I could ever give you. Also, no one is forcing your audience to pay, they can just read the free blog or go do something else.”


What do you think?

[Note: Please be kind and thoughtful. I will gently edit comments that attack; I’m interesting in having a conversation. No shittiness allowed 🙂 can you believe shittiness isn’t in spell check?]


I want to put this online, to hold myself accountable. I want to document the noise in my head. I'm tired of thinking about drinking. date of last drink: june 30, 2012

  • I agree with the person who clarified that Belle sells tools. Tools and much more – wisdom – from her experience and from being a witness to, and cheerleader for, others who are HOPING to quit drinking.

    I am grateful to have found Belle, by luck or grace, or accident, in the middle of the night (262 days ago) because I couldn’t sleep after a night of indulging in alcohol.

    The tools Belle suggests, the wisdom she shares, the experience she talks about (hers and those she has witnessed) all have great value. Yes, I found hope in listening to Belle. I am glad that I signed up for the program that cost a bit. Doing so helped me break the habit that was indeed holding me back.

    9+ months later my life is on the upswing. I’m getting things done, exploring my passions, cleaning the house better, sleeping well, losing the extra weight (no it did not happen immediately), being more responsible, being less cranky and depressed, loving myself, and appreciating my life.

    Did I hope for all of that? Yes and no. I didn’t realize how much a little or a lot of alcohol indulgence was robbing from my life. I certainly hoped I would stop drinking at last, but I couldn’t have forecasted how many ways my life would improve once the robber (alcohol) was out of the picture.

    I now HOPE that I NEVER forget this and so I continue to follow Belle and to buy what she is selling. Belle, you and your wisdom are priceless.


  • I agree with me-fixing-me… and I think we need to get smart about this: the alcohol industry spends hundreds of millions of pounds on advertising alcohol each year.

    We are sold alcohol and a drinking lifestyle in so many ways every single day.

    I am so glad and grateful that you and those who write other sober blogs are out there – I had no other sober contacts, no one to show me it was possible in my life! The hope came from reading and lurking in the blog world and finally understanding sobriety was possible and that all that ad shit and social approval about ‘needing’ alcohol for every occasion was not true.

    Real people (you and the sober community) showing me how it was done. For free, out of generosity. Priceless. And I imagine (70 days in) that encouraging others is good for maintaining happy sobriety in the longer term…..

    Like others have said – I have spent plenty on alcohol, I can choose to buy sobriety tools if I wish. It really is a no brainer.

    Thank you Belle and to all those folk out there blogging and commenting – love to you all XXX

  • encouragement, hope, support – yes, you do sell that and you are very good at it.

    ALL for FREE though.

    thanks so much Belle, you helped me greatly, being sober for 200+ days now 😉

  • I love my charm bracelet. I love my F U Wolfie bracelet. I love that you help thousands of people. I also love a lot of authors. Whose books I read. I also love musicians. Whose albums I buy. I also love a lot of meditation CDs to help people with stress and anxiety. THAT SHIT SHOULD NOT BE FREE!!!! I don’t know but I have never ever felt anything but gratitude for your wisdom, kindness, friendship, humor, and strength.

  • This is day 3 for me.
    Praise The Lord
    Thank you for your website,I have been greatly encouraged. My family is skeptical

  • I loved Clara’s response ! I have not listened to broadcast yet but I want you to know I’ve never felt pressured to buy or spend money from your blog. I do love the podcasts and My Fuck You Wolfie bracelet and wear it every day –it made me feel connected to you to receive that bracelet in an overseas envelope in the mail. You continue to offer various tangible tools that speak to us …make us feel connected and support us on our journey.
    Btw I’m waiting to order charm bracelet… Any available yet??
    Thanks for all you do!!!

  • I agree with all the other comments that applaud Belle for all she does. There is no price high enough for this soft landing in cyberspace, this blog is a gift, a lifeline and a place to hear stories that are so similar to mine. I gladly purchase a bracelet to wave goodbye to wolfie when he visits.

    I have wondered if the naysayer is in the mad as hell, sick of not being able to drink, sick of not being able to quit stage. Maybe once that bits over they will truly see how wonderful and magical life is sober. I had long forgotten myself.. but here I am 80 days sober .. thanks to gentle guidance, genuine support and heartfelt appreciation to Belle ~**~

  • We I first heard the podcast I was angry and the chatter in my head started right away “get a grip Belle, how can you doubt your own generosity in sharing with us (for free) your sobriety journey in a honest, funny, caring way. how about the challenge? Free! And it must take so much of your time!, Does that person know how much inpatient detox cost?” Now, a couple of days later, I totally agree with Clara and L. You are not “selling hope”, you’re giving it. It’s a real gift

  • I’m buying whatever you’re selling! It’s way less expensive than wine. Not to mention cheaper than therapy, rehab, my gym membership or even my weekly coffee costs!

    • Just commenting on your podcast… I know you know that going to a rehab and seeing a licensed therapist connects people with medical care. Many folks actually do need medical monitoring in order to safely stop drinking… even those with “high bottoms” – there’s really no guessing whom will get very sick coming off of alcohol. I won’t run on about other difference from paying for medical care, in a necessarily brick and mortar setting, full of people who had to go through the process of education and licensing in order to provide some of the care that many people stuck in alcohol dependence need…

      …but, I’d say no, I don’t think you can argue that licensed mental health care is the same as “selling hope” anymore than the physician you see for your medical care is merely “selling hope”.

      That’s not to say that you don’t know smart people who can give you great advice and support about how to promote your own health – and while that person may even have greater insight in how best to speak to you than does your GP – that person’s offering isn’t “same difference” to your physician.

      Similarly – defending yourself while dismissing the difference between your wonderful offering and clinical care – isn’t helpful to many of us. Mental healthcare is healthcare.

      • thanks for this. i don’t think what i’m offering is medical care at all, nor do i compare myself to a medical professional. clearly. i’m a sober girl. I’m a sober penpal. no more, no less. people know who i am and what i offer. i agree entirely that mental health issues require medical treatment. i suggest it all the time 🙂

  • I’ve had the opposite reaction to your blog and offerings…more along the lines of “I can’t believe how much she offers for free” or “there is a special place in heaven for this wonderful woman who is helping ALL of these people for FREE”. I love everything you offer, but the free emails are the foundation of what has worked for me. Who does that anymore? Belle does. Just by doing what you do, you give me hope. Not only for sobriety, but also that people do fantastically (is that a word?) kind things for others, just because they want to offer help from their own experience.

    Regarding anything you do charge for (a) you don’t charge much (people buy songs on iTunes without blinking an eye); and (b) there are hard costs to cover in doing what you do, not to mention your time. Calling people all over the world, for example.

    I’d bet that your complainer is just in a really, really bad place and was looking to lash out. I hope he/she will give hope a try.

    • Nellie said it best for me. I think you are doing an amazing thing here and those who want to play with you do and those who don’t have the option of going elsewhere. You have helped a gazillion souls who are an appreciative group if the comments are to be believed. I love your website and haven’t spent any extra either-you are just perfect the way you are. Don’t let the naysayers get you down.

  • If people COULD actually SELL sobriety, they would be zillionaires (and I would be one of their customers!).

    Please contact me IMMEDIATELY if you hear of sobriety for sale.

    Until then, I will just keep tuning in here for support. 😀

  • I think you give a lot of yourself on this blog. For free.
    Selling items is not selling hope. No one forces anyone to buy anything. It’s a joy to buy yourself a ‘stay here’ bracelet.

    How much does false hope (wine) in a bottle cost?lol

    She obviously hasn’t stumbled across the sober website where you pay to get read it.

    Thanks for being here ; )

  • Belle
    […] Please let this person know about the thousands (I don’t know the exact number, just taking a guess) of people you have helped or even saved for that matter. I am one of them and I am so grateful to have found you. I LOVE that you sell things on your site. I’ve only purchased the sober jump start and have plans on getting a bracket as a reward on my 90th day. (I have a ways to go) but honestly I couldn’t be where I am today without having found you. I also say, GREAT, if you can make some money doing this too. Heck we all need to make a living and you’re providing a service. Just keep doing all that you do. […] Thanks Belle!! You’re the best!

  • Belle, everyone will have an opinion and I believe that sometime when “we” struggle, it is easy to lash out (especially on “anonymous” internet blogs etc); however if you are selling hope, bring it on!!!

    I have signed up to this challenge, and I have not spent any money on the additionals as yet, as the others say, that is my choice.

    You reminded me earlier that I am on day 24 – a quarter of the way into this – after countless “Day Ones” so my opinion on this is that the hope you have given me freely (not sold) is priceless and I cannot thank you enough from the bottom of my (now defunct) wine glass!

    PS I am going to treat myself to one of your fab jewellery items when I am at Day 31 (my choice!!)

    Thanks for everything you do for us all xx

  • Hi Belle, I don’t believe you are selling HOPE. I believe you are selling TOOLS that people can use to help them meet their goal. TOOLS that folks can pick and choose from that might guide them to the result they are looking for. You have committed your time, energy, and talents to make those TOOLS accessible to us. We can CHOOSE to buy them – or not. Simple as that. Quite frankly, I’m amazed at the amount of time you give freely to this cause. You rock! Trish

  • It’s funny this subject should come up because I was actually going to buy the sober jumpstart when I got paid. Then I thought I’d better not because my car has been at the garage since Friday with an as-yet undiagnosed problem. It wouldn’t start, can you believe! So I don’t know how much money I’ll have after paying for it. But that isn’t preventing me from having hope – I’ve put my name down for team 100 and Im exited to get my place! I’m also thinking about getting some counselling to help me deal with an issue I’m having (part of the reason I want to quit the wine), which will also cost money. But I don’t think I can get past it by myself. Just like getting the car fixed, people provide other things- experience, services, etc which often need to be paid for which is absolutely fair enough, and I think sometimes when you think you can’t afford to, you actually can’t afford _not_ to. But Belle, I don’t think you’re selling hope, I think you’re giving it out in spades, plus some optional extra things that we can buy too, if we wish… Ramble over! Looking forward to team 100!! Xx

  • You’re not selling hope, you’re giving encouragement to people who want it enough that they go looking for it. As for selling hope try $20k for a 28 day stay at Hazelden. I’m not saying that is bad if you need it and can afford it but you give your encouragement away for free. The only money that changes hands is for the small extras that make people feel good; treats. Hey; where is that leather bracelet you were talking about? As for podcasts; people pay for those all the time; think Amazon.