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 >

a slippery-slopey bad idea

from Laure (day 62):

“Hi Belle – still doing great here zero cravings. But someone offered me a alcohol free beer. I didn’t take it but i wanted to have your thoughts. I never drink beer anyways but just curious. Let me know :)”

me:  happy day 62 to you 🙂 I personally don’t drink NA beer. here’s my quote from the book (is it douchey to quote from your own book?) on the subject:

What about non-alcoholic beer? I avoid fake beer, fake wine, and other non-alcoholic drinks or dealcoholized beverages. There is often a small percentage of alcohol in supposedly non-alcoholic drinks (often as much as 0.5%).

But most importantly, I don’t drink NA beverages because I do not want my brain to even think it’s having alcohol. I don’t want to fake-drink. I don’t even pour sparkling water into a wine glass, I use a regular juice glass.

I think mock-drinking in any form is a slippery-slopey bad idea. No fizzy fake champagne. No little bottles of apple juice that look like beer.

Let it be said that there are many people in the sober world who do consume NA drinks and they say that it is fine for them. And it may well be fine (for them). Me personally, I continue to err on the side of caution. I have
spent time trying to get Wolfie to shut up, so I am not going to risk waking him up for the sake of a fake drink made to look like alcohol.

There are some situations or events where you are used to having wine, and if you replace the wine with something else, the absence is felt less (yes, I know, it’s not the same to have ginger ale when your brain wants wine, but it’s a partial replacement: it’s a beverage in a glass). You used to watch (and sleep through) a movie with wine in your hand. Now you can watch (and remember) a movie with tonic and lime. It’s not the wine that makes the movie better. You want the snuggle-cosy-alone-time that a movie brings. Turns out it doesn’t matter what’s in your glass. You drink lemonade, or imported mineral water, or tea.


Gift from me today:

listen to this short interview with Emma Barnett on BBC Radio ‘5 Live’



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