A Secret Code and Good Things for You

From my very first day of recovery to this very day, certain parts of my routine have stood out as notable because of my sobriety: that morning cup of coffee as I realize “I’m not hungover!”…getting in my car and thinking “I never have to worry about being over the limit now!”…cooking supper for my family without opening a bottle…putting on comfy clothes at the end of each day as I prepare to face “the witching hour”…making a cup of evening tea to sooth the frayed edges…and taking time for gratitude as I crawl into bed.

I have often thought how nice it would be to buy nice things that encouraged my recovery throughout the day, yet I was hesitant to wear or carry things that broadcast my sobriety. If only there was a secret code….

I am aware that AA has a simple symbol that members often wear on jewelry or bumper stickers as a nod to sobriety, and wanted to create something similar for people on other pathways of recovery and change. Enter a dear designer friend who understands recovery personally and was eager to help with this project. She created some amazing new graphics for me, including this one as our “secret code”:UP_7748_7699_Icon-01

What does it mean, you wonder? I made this little video to explain:

And now…here’s the fun part! I have created a little shop with mugs for our morning coffee and evening tea, journals and boards for our gratitude practice, aprons for cooking time, keychains that are customizable with our recovery dates, and snuggly shirts for our cozy evenings of self-care. Basically I made a ton of items that I wanted for myself and set up a storefront on Zazzle (a print-on-demand provider) to make them available for others as well.

UnPickled is not a business venture for me nor a get-rich scheme, but simply a passion. I have put countless hours into the creation and maintenance of this blog UnPickled, and I will never ever ever charge readers for my efforts as a blogger or recovery cheerleader.

My main goal for UnPickled Shop is to encourage and support people in recovery with some neat little treats. Zazzle allows a small royalty for the use of my logo on the items it sells, and this amount will go towards paying for my website, domain registration, etc.

Thanks for you patience as I launch this project. I’ll be adding more items over the coming weeks, so please check my Facebook page for updates.



  1. Wow! I first got sober in 2013, would have had 2 years last month…but thinking I could control it, I relapsed and am a much wider 4 months sober. I haven’t been on your site in a long time and my how your site has GROWN! I just wanted to say I am happy that not only is your site still up and running, but you inspire me! I love the unre items! Keep the posts coming! Thanks for being here in the blogosphere !


  2. I woke up one morning almost a year ago after drinking well into the wee hours of the morning and had to get up and go to my job, in finance, still buzzing. I realized at that moment that it was no longer the life I wanted to lead. As such, I made a New Year’s Resolution to live 2015 without alcohol, and it has, literally, changed my life. We are almost into 2016 and not only have I accomplished my goal thus far but I have no desire to pick up drinking again even in social situations and I could not be happier that I made the decision to finally cut it out of my life.

    Thank you for the good read and come check out hat shedding alcohol has allowed me to do physically: http://www.TravelWithMitch.com


  3. Jean – love the shirt! I have decided to finally quit. I have tried to moderate, but am drinking more than ever. Tired of being tired…I won’t say anymore on that. You’ve heard it before. It’s time. You have been the person that has encouraged me & the catalyst to have me finally quit. Thanks. Day two today!


    • Annnnnnnnd hello day 3! I hope this decision gives you more peace than moderating – that yes/no roller coaster can be exhausting. Write yourself a letter and seal it away in case you ever need a reminder of why sober is better for you. I’m cheering for you. You deserve to be happy and free. We all do.


  4. I’m a 43 year old professional woman. I was 41 when I quit drinking.
    Just pick an AA meeting and go. You can just listen. Get a big book and read some of it. See if you hear anything that helps.
    Like Jean said, that cycle of using and regretting sucks. And it seems scary to not drink. But it is unbelievable relieving.
    Depression, shakes, headaches, stomach aches, dry mouth. These are all physical withdrawal symptoms. Take care of yourself and get help if you feel ill.

    Therapy is also a good option. And yoga. But nothing works well until you actually put down the bottle.

    There’s so much life just waiting for you! Do it!


    Liked by 2 people

  5. Undergo reinvention – love it! These 2 words completely explain my experience, and boy oh boy has it been a frightening and rewarding ride.

    Mornings now involve getting out of bed and starting the day with a sense of self. Previously, the day started with trying to remember what I made for dinner the night before. If I remembered, I felt confident talking with family members without giving away “my secret.” If not, I put my head down and got ready for the day in silence while making deals with myself never to drink again. It really stunk. I have such gratitude for each day I can continue to undergo reinvention!


    • Hi Annie! Yes, Zazzle is amazing – they print p your order and ship it almost anywhere…at a cost though. Some things are quite expensive to ship and others are not bad. Zazzle is in the U.S., so even for me here in Canada I pay quite a bit for shipping when I order. I played around with different combinations of items and eliminated some to get a better rate.


  6. Any (every) night I drink too much I wake up at around 4am and feel shame and think “tomorrow will be the day I stop drinking”. Then, I fall back to sleep and wake without that thought again until I do it again. (Well maybe the thought but it quickly goes away as the day goes on). It’s past midnight, I’ve drank too much and want to be SOBER! Like, forever! When will it click? When did it click for you? I don’t drink daily, but most days. I don’t drink too much every day, but most days… Help.


    • Oh man….(((hug)))….I remember that cycle all too well. Most readers of this blog went through the it, too. It’s agony. It’s addiction plain and simple: you are not able to control your relationship with alcohol. What you want is not what happens. The fact that you’re aware of it and reading sober blogs shows that you’re preparing for change. Now you just have to find the will to take action. For me, that happened when I realized I was getting worse instead of better and it could eventually kill me. I saw where I was headed and it scared the bejeebers out of me. Here’s the thing. You have to do things differently if you want to change. If you normally drink on the couch starting at 7, then don’t sit down on the couch at 7 with a cup of tea and expect to be fine. Make a plan for getting through the first few days, go shopping and buy some comforts, distractions, and healthy food, also lots of sweets because sugar helps counter alcohol cravings (it’s been studied). Enlist someone you trust to hang out with you or be nearby in case you get sick from detoxing (search post-acute withdrawal syndrome and know the risks of alcohol withdrawal). Quitting drinking is HARD but you can do it. Don’t be afraid to check out an AA meeting or other recovery group (see my resources page). The people there aren’t going to judge you, they’ll welcome you and encourage you. Maybe that’s the piece of the puzzle that’s missing. I’ll be cheering for you so keep us posted on your progress.


      • Thank you so much for the reply. I know I have to quit…for good. It’s exciting and terrifying to think of never drinking again. I have been thinking about it for a long time. Luckily, I don’t detox. I’ve gone days without it (a few) and when I decide to drink again it’s an emotional thing, or almost a reward for going a few days without it; not a physical need…yet. Going to give it a shot…again. I know nothing about AA meetings except that there are many different types. I’m a 42-year old professional woman. Any idea what type would be appropriate?


        • Hi Coreycan. Unpickled was the first sober blog I read when I was in the exact same place that you are. There were so many reasons/excuses I could tell myself about why I might not have a drinking problem, but all the same things that you mentioned, like waking up at 3 or 4am hating myself, trying to remember what was said in my own home etc., kept whispering to me that I did. A week after I quit drinking, I went to my first AA meeting and asked for help. (meaning asking what a Sponsor does and in turn someone offered to be my sponsor) I’m what they call a “high bottom” alcoholic. Never got in legal trouble, always had a great job, most people would never have called me an alcoholic. You don’t even have to use that term but we know when we can’t control our drinking. I’m on day 112 and could have never done it alone. Only with the support of the blogs, podcasts like “The Bubble Hour” and meetings have I been able to accomplish this. I can’t think in terms of forever still. Have to keep today my only concern when it comes to drinking but I am so grateful to make it this far. You can do it too! I drank 8 years longer than you. Would have been nice to quit at 42 but we can only look ahead, not back. Keep reaching out, you’ll be amazed at how great you’ll feel with just a few days behind you. Its not always easy but its so worth it to get your self-respect back. All meetings will welcome you and you’ll start an exciting journey.


          • Hi JMS. It is so true. We can’t look back..though the temptation is still great for me and I have to work hard not to get stuck in how I could have avoided some big-time prices had I only somehow earlier developed the resolve to stop that I now have – for 151 days in a row. As you say, the freedom and self-respect delivered by sobriety are stunningly welcome after wasting so much time in what I call Fear Jail.

            Sobriety is Un

            Easy Rider


        • Yes Corey…..

          my first meetings, and for a long time, were woman’s meetings. I just felt safer, and since i also started my research on quitting online and had some online friends who went to AA, I listened to them.
          You can look online or call your local AA intergroup office, but look for Closed women’s groups…that means that everyone in the group will identify as an alcoholic (and don’t worry about that: the only requirement for being in a meeting is the desire to stop drinking, and you seem to have that..just say that if asked).
          Here;s a sketchy comment, and one i don’t abide by now as i am comfortable in any AA meeting anywhere, but at the beginning i was told to go to a meeting in a neighborhood I knew and felt comfortable in, that way i would more likely identify with the women there. I found that to be true in the beginning.
          Also..if you know anyone that can go with you..another alcoholic, that is so helpful. I had people i met online meeting me at meetings..it was awesome. I also live in los Angeles, so that was easy for me, but if you can take advantage of that then do.
          Bottom line tho is just go. Any meeting, anytime. listen with an open mind and heart and you will hear something that resonates, just as you do on these boards. There are people in real life that can help you if you allow them to.
          Good luck!


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