We had the good fortune of connecting with Carrie Neal Walden and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Carrie Neal, what are you inspired by?
I always root for the underdog. Seeing someone with major challenges or barriers to their success, particularly when they just can’t quite get it all together but keep coming close – the ones that don’t lose heart and finally reach their authentic, vibrant life. Those are my heroes because they never give up.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
In my life story, that is an odyssey! It is an incredible gift to connect with others and sharing that story for a higher purpose. There is nothing easy about a life of alcoholism until we stop drinking and pursue a new way of living. Then your worldview changes. Faith in something bigger than me, in our ability to find purpose and then do my best to live it is truly the greatest gift of my life. I was raised with many tenets for a good life and taking “to whom much is given, much is expected” as an action phrase is meaningful. Words have long been my currency. Sharing inspirational along with instructional ones is unique in our social media world. Connecting with others means many things and we have countless ways to do it now.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Wow! This is a dream given our world since early 2020. Obviously, you’d guess that spending time in and around restaurant people is important to me so my friend would be someone from another Ben’s Friends city. We would eat at a couple of places owned by The Indigo Road, the company founded by Steve Palmer. Oak Steakhouse at Avalon would be one; I would dearly miss being able to take them to Donetto on the Westside, which sadly closed last year during the pandemic. A visit to the rooftop at the Hotel Clermont would definitely be on our list for Atlanta night air and a skyline view. We might also have to go to the Varsity too though, because everyone should have an F.O. once in their lives! Other than eating, we would spend time with my two dogs, Luke and Clark Gable, at the dog park at Piedmont Park in Midtown. Living in Buckhead now, getting around town is as easy as it was growing up (kinda!). I will always be attached to the old Fulton County stadium since I grew up on Braves season tickets, but we would still need to go to a business man’s special at Truist that Wednesday, my favorite weekday. I’d be up for something fancy playing at the Fox, too, even though I dislike large concert and play crowds. I would leave plenty of room for things we didn’t think of til they got here!The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
All the Shoutout should be for Ben’s Friends, and I just get a little spillover! In 2016, Charleston Restaurateurs Mickey Bakst and Steve Palmer decided it was time our industry faced the fact that we were drinking and drugging ourselves to death at astronomical rates. We are a community named in honor of Ben Murray, a chef and friend Steve lost to suicide. I came into the picture in 2017 and since then, this community has become my family. We are now bi-coastal with local chapters in 13 cities and 22 online meetings a week. 2020 turned out to be the most unbelievable blessing in bringing our recovery community both together and grow it. I have the privilege of managing our National Social Media presence – a dream job that gives me a front row seat seeing start to find hope, and people who care for them in a deep and unique way.