Carver Brown possesses a calm, gentle, compassionate way of being that makes you feel like everything is just all…..right in this world. In fact, Carver’s positive energy is so infectious that it makes you want in on the deal. If he tells you that it’s derivative of time spent as a yogi, you’ll likely want to step up your yoga practice – and when he tells you that a TPAS Collaborative inspires and nurtures him, you realize just how much you need to attend the Spring 2016 Collaborative event. We caught up with Carver last week, and here’s some of what we learned, in his own words.
I’m going on seven years as Alumni Coordinator at Pine Grove. It seems like it was yesterday that I was hired, and I wasn’t real sure what I was being hired to do.
I was teaching yoga, working at an IOP, and doing aftercare – but this was my first full-time job in this field.
When you become an Alumni Coordinator, there’s no manual, no class – and this was prior to TPAS – so there was no way to figure out what we should be doing.
Days of Hope is our program that invites alumni back to Pine Grove – as often as 5 times a year, for 2 days, for the rest of their lives.
Lauren Kirschberg came up with the idea. We learned of Talbot in Atlanta having a revisit program, where alumni came back, told stories, sat in on lectures…and Lauren said, “What if we did that here?” I told her that it would be too hard. How are we going to get people to come back to Hattiesburg, MS on their own dime? Every so often, she’d bring it up again. I loved the idea, but thought it would be a hard sell. We have multiple programs here, with multiple clinical directors.
One time when Lauren mentioned it, I thought, “That’s a great idea!” (because I know a good thing when I hear it, enough times). We wrote up a plan for Days of Hope and visited with each of the program directors, and it took about a year of problem-solving with each, but we plugged away and saw it through.
The way it sits now – everyone who goes through treatment is welcome to come back. They partake with primary groups, community meetings, meals with patients, and basically do a tune up for themselves. It gives hope to the patients and reenergizes the staff – reminding the staff that they’re changing the universe with every patient that they affect.
This works when the staff is willing to go the extra mile – and this only works because they are willing – I give all the credit to the staff.
One thing about recovery that I’m known to say is, “You can’t make this stuff up.” The stories of what got us here couldn’t get written in Hollywood. You can’t make up recovery either – you can think about it and imagine how it’s going to go – but how it works out – job, partner, the mountains or the beach – you can’t make it up.
I also like to say, “Be gentle with yourself.” Don’t be too hard on yourself. We arrive with a lot of guilt and shame, and sometimes we want to really push ourselves.
Sometimes 30 days is just 30, 90 is just 90 – you can say a thousand prayers, go to a ton of meetings, but you can’t hurry things. It’s going to be okay – I don’t know how – can’t give you the details – but it’s going to be okay.
Sometimes the advice I give is real simple. We’ll have a long discussion – and then I give a recommendation – no alcohol for the next 24 hours – no drugs for the next 24 hours – keep it simple.
I’m grateful for so many things! I’m grateful to be in this field.
Here’s something else for which I’m grateful; Beth and I are adopting an infant around Feb 12th – expecting the birth on Feb 12th. We’ve been at every doctor’s appt. and we’re going to be there for the birth – it’s been an amazing experience already!
As for my wife, Beth, she’s the best of this operation. Beth is the finest person that I know. I’m grateful to have a wonderful partner, and grateful to the universe for this gift and that God listens and cares.
I’ve been grateful the whole time that I’ve been sober and in the time I’ve been sober, I’ve had more hard experiences — but the key to it all is gratitude. A grateful man is a humble man, and a humble man is teachable. So, it all begins with gratitude leading to humbleness and an ability to learn.
Happiness comes and goes – it’s episodic – but joy stays with you – and I found the secret, which is gratitude.
What’s the mark of someone’s sobriety? For me, it’s how are you’re handling your losses and where you carry the message of recovery. Put those two together and that’s the trick.
What has TPAS done for me? TPAS has changed my life. When I found out about TPAS, I was approached by Leonard and I was so focused on Pine Grove, that I was slow on the uptake. But Leonard must have sensed something because he stayed in touch…and then I attended TPAS’ 2nd Collaborative event.
I came away with all these ideas about how to enhance our alumni program and transform Pine Grove as a whole. My soul got nurtured…my spirit…and I walked out of that experience as a better man in recovery.
At the TPAS Collaborative, my brain got fed. I walked the grounds with some of the best recovery minds in the nation. We were so open, no secrets, so free – so nurturing. It was a transformational event indeed.
I want to give away to as many people as I can. I want to remain a part of TPAS it as long as I live, and I want TPAS to affect the industry as a whole. If our sense of community and unguarded sharing can leak into the industry, I can’t think of a grander thing to be a part of.
It works like this, the healing of an individual, the healing of a treatment center and the healing of the industry. There’s nothing more that I’d rather be a part of.
And along the journey, I grow as a person.