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 …


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.


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.


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


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 “ 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.

Myth #1: You Have To Hit Rock Bottom Before You Can Recover

Thrive Global is Arianna Huffington’s new online media venture.

Their focus is on unlocking human potential, avoiding burnout, getting enough sleep, and taking good care of you.

PollyAnna Brown is one of senior writers, and when she contacted me and asked if she could interview me about quitting drinking, i said yes (no kidding). then after we talked for an hour, she asked if we could talk again, and we did, for 2 more hours.

I really had no idea what would come of it. Press cycles and timeliness of things, I never know when (or if) something will occur.

OK, well today there’s this, published on Thrive Global just an hour ago! link

The Badge You’re Wearing That’s Sabotaging Your Life: The Shocking Truth About Overworking (& Other Compulsive Behaviors)

Kevin Carden –

Sober Coach, Belle Robertson, is blowing three common myths about addiction wide open that have been keeping people like you stuck for far too long. If you’ve ever done something even though you knew it wasn’t a good idea or even if you didn’t really want to do it, pay attention …

>> read the full article here <<

Fierce With The Goal, Flexible With The Means

from me

In rereading my morning pages from March 21, 2016, it was right after I’d returned from Apprentice SoberP’s wedding in Scotland, and days later my stepfather (mr. cinnamon) had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. I was getting ready to go to Canada to see him, and I was writing a pep talk note to myself, and then as I wrote, it morphed into a sober lesson:

Monday March 21, 2016
My plan for this week: chiropractor for ongoing sore back, dentist, prescriptions refilled, odds and ends. follow-up on jewelry order, mail out newsletters, laundry, buy a plane ticket, keep working on book, and assume that april 16th still works as a pre-launch date [it did]. Keep going at 85%, not manic, just regular effort, it can all occur, just in ways you don’t expect. People publish books from Canada. People mail jewelry from Canada. It can all occur, just differently. Fierce with the goal, flexible with the means. The ‘HOW’ is always different. If we knew the HOW, we’d do it straight away. The truth is there are 60 HOWs. If you try 1 + 2 and it doesn’t work, and if the goal is to be sober, then move to a different HOW. Your insistence on knowing/creating/believing in ONE HOW is the problem. The rigidity. The inflexibility. The self-righteousness. It isn’t working. This rigidity doesn’t suit you. It locks you in a room with the insides of your head. You open the door, you come out of the closet (you exit). You step into the sunshine. It’s about time.




exit painting #389 >

crossing the border with wolfie

email from Wilder: “… speaking of Wolfie, as I was going through the Eurostar security this morning [train from france to england], I took all my metal stuff off and stuck it in my open handbag. It promptly fell off the X-ray belt. The security guard handed back my watch and off I went — only to realise ten minutes later that my FUW bracelet had disappeared. I FREAKED. Ran back and begged the security guard to give it back. They said « you need to give us an accurate description » and so I did. And added « il y a une énorme grossièreté à l’intérieur » [there is a big swear word on the inside].

This being France, they roared with happy laughter and begged me to explain « mais c’est qui ce Wolfie ? »  [who is this wolfie?] i smiled, said the bracelet was « magique » (which it is) and that Wolfie brought out the worst in me (which he does).

So, okay, I know this is magical thinking, but I love my bracelet and you are absolutely right, it is filled with strong and protective powers. I’m so so happy I didn’t lose it. Thanks again Belle, thanks for being you and being out there. xxx. Wilder”


about the one minute message cards … 

C: “The cards work because they can be placed anywhere, especially when Wolfie is chatty and you don’t have the time or your brain hasn’t been able to tell Wolfie to STFU!!! Stick them on the frig! Hide them under the pickles, tape them to the bathroom mirror, put them on the steering wheel or dashboard, computer screen, anywhere and everywhere!!! Laminated makes them extra special because they can be wiped, dried, and relocated! It can even become a game for your support person to hide them for you!!!!”

tom:  “I carry my wallet everywhere I go. I reach for it 20-30 times a day. I wanted something that could help me get through the 6 month slump; the 8.5 month bumps in the road and the one year crevasse.  Trouble times that for some reason are mentioned over and over again in the sober blog world.  Every time I reach for my wallet, I’ll think of shit Belle says, most importantly NOT TODAY!! These cards will get me past the first two milestones-hopefully one year won’t be that bad by then.  Simply put, they are an affordable tool for my sober toolbox.  As a bonus, I have never received mail from France!!  I will now-EXCELLENT!!”

J: “I believe it is because it is something real. You can hold it in your hand and know that someone. YOU. cared enough to send it. That really helps.”

p.s. from me:  i’ve decided to include the bonus photos with every order. i hated saying ‘the first 100 people” get something special and then having others email and ask “am i in the special first group?” i hate saying no. i want everyone to have the special things! so i’ve ordered extra copies of the photo to go into the first envelopes. so, photos for everyone…

One Minute Message Cards
available here:


alcoholic who cares

“Dear Belle,
Am I an alcoholic?”
Belle says
who cares.
OK, that’s not soothing enough
for a One Minute Message.
Let me say it again, more soothingly:
It doesn’t matter if you’re an alcoholic or not.
It doesn’t matter if you use that word.
It doesn’t matter if you like that word.
What matters, is if you feel better when you don’t drink.
What matters, is that when you don’t drink,
you sleep better,
you feel proud of yourself,
you have more money,
you consume fewer dumb calories,
you have better relationships,
you’re more available for possibilities and opportunities in the world.
And mostly, you learn to stop slamming your hand in the car door
and you learn other ways to make yourself feel better.
Like self-soothing things that actually work.
Because, you know, alcohol doesn’t actually work as self-soothing,
although wolfie will tell us that it does.
What’s the theme of this message today?
Sobriety, it’s not just for alcoholics anymore.

[listen to this message as an audio]


>> You can learn more about the Season 3 cards here <<

and if you missed season 1, season 2, or want to order both seasons 1 and 2, i’ll embed those links so that you’re not missing out.
previous seasons arrive all at once in one big batch.

update as of Monday july 22:

135 of the 300 sets have been claimed

Quit forever, or for now?

It seems like the words shouldn’t make a difference, but they do.

Do you quit drinking "forever"? or "for now"?

As a test, we compare quitting drinking to giving up cheese. Do it forever, or for now? And what happens when you frame it as ‘forever’?

​​I've posted the link below and the audio will be available for 24 hrs. You can click and listen in increments. Nothing to sign up for. Easy to access​ (free/anonymous).

This audio will also be sent out to podcast subscribers.

​Sober Podcast 317. ​Quit Forever, or For Now?

​Question: ​After you listen to the audio, tell me how you think about this question. What kind of thinking works best for you? Post a comment below.

Sign up for the ​podcast membership
(1-2 new full-length audios each ​week, you can cancel whenever you like ... but you won't. more sober tools = good)

encouragement comes in the mail

sample set of cards from season 2

encouragement comes in the mail.

from me:
it was a year ago that Tom asked if i could make up some one-minute message cards that could go in his wallet, since he’s not the kind of guy to wear charm bracelets or gold jewelry. don’t know why not, but whatever.

i said sure, i can make up cards. and i figured i’d do maybe enough for 30 people. mail 2 cards a month for 6 months. call it a ‘season’ like a season of television.
“who wants season 1 of the OMM cards, I said, last july?”

i ordered 30 sets of cards and waited.

then they sold out in a couple of hours and i thought, wait, i don’t understand. little cards in the mail? something tangible and real in the world of digital? nice (old) stamps from France?

i ordered a few more, posted a few more messages, and within 3 weeks had sold ten times as many as i’d ever thought. ordered more envelopes. ordered more cards. thought about putting a bonus photo in the first couple of envelopes and ended up putting a photo in EVERY envelope.

after the six months was up, it was time for season 2. six more sets of cards to be mailed, bonus photo every month.

and again the demand far outstripped availability. it takes many hours to do even 300 sets per month, so i’ve had to limit it, just because of the practicalities of printing and mailing with my little fingers (and periodically, borrowed husband fingers).

now it’s time for season 3
and i’m making this the last season.
every month for 6 months you’ll get 2 new cards in the mail and a bonus photo. mailed directly to you. will arrive at random times. unpredictable, surprising, cheerful 🙂 maybe even with a bit of hope in each envelope? or is that too cheesy …

>> You can learn more about the Season 3 cards here <<

and if you missed season 1, season 2, or want to order both seasons 1 and 2, i’ll embed those links so that you’re not missing out.
previous seasons arrive all at once in one big batch.


update as of thurs july 18:

109 of the 300 sets have been claimed

remove the booze

email from Amylee on the day before she quit drinking: “What if my Wolfie is the real me?  What if wolfie isn’t one aspect of me I can control but rather the central control point?  How can something as basic as wolfie so consistently and easily override all of the facts and insights and intentions I know to be true until evening rolls around?? Is wolfie the real me??”

me: not true. not true that wolfie is you. you remove the booze and the voice stops. when you’re on day 60 you can ask this question again. for now, it’s actually wolfie speaking, saying the same things he says to everyone: “I’m different, I’m broken, I can’t do this, I’m a special fucked up human …” 
you’re not. remove the booze and this all stops …
the thinking is IN the alcohol.

[update: she’s on day 141 today]


this is exit painting #384. there’s an exit 384 on the highway in florida, heading to gainesville. yes, really. gains-ville. what do you gain by taking exit 384? you get to go to gainesville. you can’t make this shit up. maybe i’m the only one who finds this amusing 🙂
this is exit painting #384 on the site, here.

​painted by mr.belle, acrylic and ink on archival paper, 11.75″ x 16.75″; original art (not a print), only 1 available, signed and numbered on back. link.


little surprises

email from Noontylemon (day 5): “Sober 🙂 Also i had a great idea. When i was drunk i was always finding nasty little surprises (like sent messages in my mails to that i’d forgotten that made me cringe, text messages to exes, realising i must have taken out £40 from the cash machine since i found the receipt and no sign of the money nor what i spent it on, thinking i’d only drunk one bottle of wine and then finding a near empty second. etc etc).

Anyway!!! So i’ve started planting sober surprises about the place! Little encouraging notes to myself, a £5 note hidden in a pocket with the words ‘for a treat’ stuck on it, i even just put a recipe for an alcohol-free punch in the fridge! The trouble is that since i’m sober i haven’t forgotten where they are yet!!!! But it makes me smile to think i might discover them in a week’s time and how pleased i will be if i’m still sober. So much thanks.”


this Exit painting (by mr.belle) was chosen to be shown at the art show in Tennessee (May 2019). now it’s here in paris, ready to be mailed to you. but just before it leaves, i snuck in some oxygen bubbles, signs of life. effervescence. fireflies!

this is #381 >


link here >