Thank you, Birmingham Magazine!

 

 

I’ve answered phones, I’ve cleaned offices and I’ve been made to count pencils (yes, really). I’ve been counted out, overlooked, laughed at and rejected more times than I can count. I very nearly flunked out of college. I’ve doubted myself. I’ve felt invisible. I’ve been underestimated, undermined, underpaid, overlooked and overworked. In spite of that I’ve worked my narrow behind off, and I never let other people’s issues and “-isms” determine my self-worth. I’ve delivered under pressure that has seemed insurmountable, and performed when my heart wanted to give up. But I’m still standing. And I know I’m not alone.

I’m honest about my journey because I’m grateful for it. If I can make it, God knows you can, too.

I am still overwhelmed from yesterday’s Top Influencers Under 40 luncheon! Birmingham Magazine made it a beautiful day for us at the City Club.

And Rent The Runway really came through in a pinch. I’ve lost so much weight that most of my clothes don’t fit, and I literally had nothing to wear! Having been through several physical changes over the last couple of months, RTR, Kim Colvin and James Adams, Jr. all helped me look my best.

It meant so very much to me to not only be in the room, but to have my mother beside me and to celebrate so many other amazing people, including one of my best friends!

Congratulations to all the honorees!

A.

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Birmingham’s Top Influencers Under 40 Named

Everyone on this list — change agents, professionals, and movers and shakers from a wide variety of industries — is a force to be reckoned with, and I am very honored to be included.

Click HERE to see the inaugural list of honorees. It’s first class! (See what I did there?)

//A.

I’m fibroid-free. (For now.)

MARCH 2018:

I’m watching happy mommies, round with bumps.

Some are accompanied by partners. They stand close. They rub their bellies. They smile and speak softly to each other.

A pair of women sit together.

Others like me, sit alone. Arms folded, eyes closed…or methodically turning the curling pages of a magazine. Some tap tap tap on their screens. Like me, right now.

I watch the ones who are visibly pregnant. One mother-to-be pulls out snacks and water. Her outfit, a striped knit bodycon dress, a jacket festooned with brassy buttons and suede flats, is sharp.

An athleisure-wearing, topknotted mom comes in with a baby riding silently in a stroller, little enough to need a cushion around its tiny head.

Others, like me, are not pregnant at all.

The desire to at least be able to give birth almost overwhelms me. It is the one thing I can’t do. Yet. Or maybe ever.

We all wait.

The waiting room is rust with shades of apple and sage green. The wall coverings are alternating panels of wheat-colored and puce brocade-print paper.

Then I am called.

No tussling with a paper gown, this time.

Just a plop of warm goo on my bare belly. The sonographer glides the wand across my flesh, and the wall-to-wall flatscreens light up.

There I am, inside out.

And there they are, all three of them that are immediately visible. Seven, hiding. Growing, insistently. Constantly. Feeding off of me.

But they aren’t babies.

Ten noncancerous fibroid tumors take up all available space. They’ve been growing there for years, in the place where a baby should be. Maybe the seed of them is genetic. Or maybe it’s environmental. One thing is for sure:

They have to be removed, in order for any baby to grow there.

I almost don’t believe what I’m seeing. I want to look away, but I can’t. When I finally close my eyes, they fill with tears that spill over onto my cheeks and run into my ears and splash onto the paper covering the exam chair. I want to scream. Instead I just cry silently in the dark. And when my doctor tells me to prepare for serious complications that could mean the end of my life I begin to pray out loud.

I shouldn’t have come here alone. I am so shaken that I don’t know how I will find my car, or get home. And I can’t stop looking at the flatscreens.

They’re huge. So huge they’re pressing on my stomach and other organs—which explains why I’m always hungry but can barely eat. Why I’m so tired all the time but can’t really rest. Why I’m in pain but can’t get any relief. Why I feel like I can’t breathe.

“Wow,” says the sonographer as she peers at her screens. “You’re so thin that I’m sure you can feel them,” she says.

I can.

They’re hard to miss, since they announced themselves with a 25 pound weight gain and 24-hour fatigue and breathlessness and mind-numbing cramps and back aches.

I’ve had so many side eyes at my expanding midsection the last two years or so that I’ve lost count. Now I no longer notice. There are only so many times you can fake-smile and explain a belly away as a food baby. And I’ve given up hiding it with Spanx.

I’ve suffered through the persistent stomach ache, the damage it’s done to my body image, my self-esteem and my emotions and the problematic monthly cycles.

Add to that the constant stress I’ve been under, which releases a hormone that (surprise!) only makes the tumors grow faster. Because the world doesn’t care if you’re sick: it’ll demand more and dump more and wreck you, regardless. I’ve been through so much personally and professionally in the last six months that I’m literally turning it into a book.

But relief is held out to me, swinging like a pendulum for me to grab and hold on to. And I grab it.

It will mean an open procedure similar to a c-section, only I will go home with no baby.

It will mean that there is a possibility the fibroids could return, since the only way to get rid of them for good appears to be to have a hysterectomy — an option that is not an option for me right now.

It will mean all my dreams for a doula-assisted natural childbirth, with soft jazz and Beyoncé and candles and my mother and mother-in-law holding each other’s hands in prayer around us, for the boy and girl fraternal twins I keep dreaming about, won’t happen.

But at this point even that doesn’t matter anymore.

Because this weight has broken me down and I can’t carry it or drag it anymore. Not one more blessed step.

And I’m ready to be delivered.

***

MAY 2018:

Well, here’s your #nofilter outfit of the day and post, over a week after my open myomectomy has been successfully completed. I’m home resting, and will mostly be offline in the interim.

Why be this transparent? I debated about whether sharing this is TMI, but the truth is not enough women are sharing the reality of their experience with fibroids.  We’ve been taught our bodies are shameful and dirty and that what happens inside them should be kept secret. But who does that help?

I’ve been anxious, afraid and ashamed for SO long. And it’s time to let it all go.

Life got real, real fast last week and in the last few months. There’s nothing like planning your own funeral to make you reevaluate the direction your life is taking. I feel silly complaining now because I know it could be worse.

The important thing is I woke up and I’m still here, thank God. And I’m going to be fine. One day at a time.

I do not have enough words to thank my family and friends for their support, prayers and practical help. My surgeon/doctor says bikinis and babies are definitely in my future.

We’ll see.

What I know for sure is, life can only get better from here. No matter what I’ve lost through this process, I have retained my sense of humor, my grasp on reality and my ability to overcome anything. So my foot is on the gas, from here on out. And with a flatter stomach to boot. Yassssssssssss!

Now before Mama takes my phone and pc away: who can I talk to about improving this outfit they make you wear? It’s the real tragedy of this story.

XO//Alexis

P.S. There are several options available to treat  and/or remove fibroids, depending on their size, location and the patient’s preferences. The purpose of this post is not to recommend any particular course of action or treatment. I AM NOT A DOCTOR OR MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL, and I cannot treat or diagnose you. If you’re dealing with fibroids, please consult with a trained medical professional to make the best possible choice for your personal situation, preferences and goals.

For more information about fibroids:

O, the Oprah Magazine

Prevention

The Chicago Tribune

The White Dress Project

WomensHealth.Gov

UCLA Obstetrics & Gynecology

The details: Dress: aq/aq| Jacket: J.Crew| Shoes: Converse | Earrings: Forever 21

I was honored to serve on the Host Committee for this year’s Chucks and Tux, a fundraiser supporting Growing Kings — which is helping to prepare he next generation of young leaders in our community. I was really worried about finding the right Converse (since I don’t normally wear them) and the right outfit to go with them.

I ended up shopping my closet and deciding to be literal, so what you see is my version of Chucks and Tux. I’ve never worn an actual tuxedo, but I like this chic, feminine version. The dress appears to be two pieces in a feat of architectural design. The jacket adds color blocking and modesty when worn over the shoulder for a bit of casual glam. I layered my bling to take the look up a notch and pick up the rose quartz shoes.

My hair and makeup were kept to “Old Hollywood” glamour to complement the look.

More important than what I wore is the amount of fun I had. I haven’t been to a party in months, haven’t danced in months, haven’t had a reason to dress up and go out for months. So it felt good to get out, and I really appreciated having two of my best friends with me. I even took a selfie with the Mayor! (Find it here.)

Seeing myself smiling on a larger than life banner at the party reminded me: the best is yet to come, there will be some surprises along the way, and there is always a reason to dance. (Shout out to Growing King’s executive director Marcus Carson for letting me bring the banner home.)

No matter what happens in life, there is always something to celebrate. For me it was being asked to participate with Growing Kings, being named a 2018 Distinguished Survivor by the U.S. Attorneys Office and finishing Girl Trek’s “Harriet Hall of Fame Challenge,” in which I walked/ran 100 miles in two months. (I have that challenge to thank for my slimmed-down shape.)

XO//Alexis

The High Roller

 

Peplum top: Forever 21 // Sequin fringe skirt: J. Crew // “Lyla” heels: Steve Madden // Clutch: Target  

Yes, I actually wear what you see me posting here. This fun (and comfortable!) white and gold look was my outfit for Saturday’s “Harlem in the ‘Ham” fundraiser, hosted by the UAB Minority Health Research Center’s Young Professional Board.

The look I was going for is “modern flapper,” in keeping with the event’s theme. The high-wattage glamour of the sequined fringe skirt is toned down by its sweater knit material and the addition of a simple cream strapless peplum. Simple hoops and a ring with a gold clutch and barely-there heels complete the look, along with sleek hair and a neutral face.

A special shout out goes to my glam squad: Kim Colvin (makeup) and James Adams, Jr. (hair). My hair and makeup held up after hours of circulating and schmoozing — but my feet were killing me by 2 a.m.! Congrats to the MHRC YPB for a fabulously executed event!

XO // Alexis

Golden Girl

 

 

Details: Linen fringe top (s/o) &  Tie-waist skirt, J.Crew // Shoes, Steve Madden // Clutch, & Earrings (vintage), 5th Avenue Antiques

Love, LOVE this skirt. I don’t wear yellow often, but this is richer, more saturated than most. It’s more of a mango (J. Crew has named it “marigold petal.). If I ever get to Cuba or the south of France, this skirt is going too.  But this look wasn’t for photos — I actually wore it to Art on the Rocks Friday night.  A bit of linen, a pop of color — perfect for a casual evening party.

Let’s also talk about my seed pearl and gold earrings. I’m all about a piece of statement jewelry, and it doesn’t matter to me if it’s costume. I stalked these at 5th Avenue Antiques for MONTHS. They’re similar to Miriam Haskell’s gorgeous, collectible pieces — but mine aren’t marked so I’m unsure of their provenance.

Are you enjoying the outfit posts? Let me know. (See more images on Instagram!)

Thank you for being a friend…

XO // Alexis

Photos courtesy of Lexicon Creative

The Belle

Dress: Asos // Handbag: Hanna Antiques // Gloves: Etsy (vintage) // Shoes: Steve Madden // Hat: Belk (old)

I am singlehandedly trying to bring back gloves as day wear (see what I did there?) because I think they are darling! My grandmothers loved them, and their individual senses of style had a major influence on me.

This is my take on their heyday: a 1950s  meets 2017 wiggle dress (made in a modern scuba fabric and finished with a lovely neckline), worn with a snappy shoe and contrasting hat, gloves and handbag (snagged at Hanna Antiques for under $10!). For a pop of color, my lipstick is MAC’s Ruby Woo to match the handbag’s scarlet lining.

XO // Alexis

Leaning on…

I’m excited and honored to speak at Lean On: Alabama’s inaugural conference this Saturday! When I interviewed the founders a few months ago, I was impressed with their vision and their determination. What we need now more than ever are efforts that connect people, and this one works diligently and creatively to empower, challenge and share the collective knowledge Alabama’s women have earned no matter our age, economic status, education or profession. Passing this on makes us stronger individually and as a whole.

I expect to be moved and motivated this weekend, and if your schedule permits, I hope you will join us!

Register by clicking HERE, and learn more about Lean On: Alabama by clicking HERE.

 

 

 

 

Alexis is in the February Birmingham Magazine!

Black women model natural hair styles Well, this was a fun surprise. I was asked to offer tips on natural hair care for an article in this month’s Birmingham Magazine. It was nice being being on the other side of the interview for a change! Pick up a copy and check it out. 

Shout out to Javacia Harris Bowser for the interview and Halcyon Studios for the photographs.

Every Michelle Has a Melania.


I SO did not want to address this again. But I have to.

When I was in high school, I saved my allowance to buy a banging new outfit for the Bayou Classic. It was a pair of black jeans (as tight as my mother would allow), a matching black denim cropped vest and a black and white striped top, all by Bongo Jeans and all from The Body Shop, which was THE shop for teenage girls when I was growing up. I was so excited to go to Pensacola’s Cordova Mall and buy this outfit, then wear it in New Orleans and to school.

Imagine how I felt when soon after I’d worn it, a classmate went out and bought a nearly identical outfit, down to the shirt and belt with a big buckle–in hunter green. If there were hundreds of kids in my school it might not have mattered, but there were just about a hundred kids in each class. So if we showed up wearing them on the same day and had the same class(es), it was awkward.

I still wore my outfit but it didn’t feel quite as…special. I never let my classmate know her blatant imitation did not feel like flattery.

I’m a grown up now. And I don’t think anyone is out here trying to copy my looks from head to toe anymore–if they are, good luck with that. What has become impossible to ignore though is people who are, shall we say, heavily inspired by what I’ve written, posted and shared. These are people who stop just short of clicking “Control +C” and “Control +V.” Inspiration is great; many people inspire me. But what you won’t see is me coming out with a Pink Lemonade album, or singing “When Swans Cry” and acting like I thought of it myself.  I won’t ever try to be The Jenesaisquoi, J.Crew is My Favorite Store, Atlantic Pacific or Demetria Lucas D’Oyley, because I’d be a poor imitation. I love them. But it’s much more fun just being me. And if I were going to be inspired by them I’d at least give them props in print (like I just did). Or via video.


I don’t copy because it’s taken me a long time to be totally comfortable being Alexis, and writing in my own voice. That’s why I have to put up this post today. I’ve put too much time and effort into what I do not to defend it. So for those who are leaning heavily on or who are so deeply inspired by my posts,  graduate work or journalism (and I know you’re reading this), that you use it to attempt your own low budget versions, know that I see you.  We all do. E for Effort, darlings! I’m just thankful my family of supporters know the difference between cheap imitations and the real deal.

Make sure you don’t ever get so sloppy and desperate that you directly plagiarize my work, though, because then we’ll have a problem. Let me be explicit: my work is original content that is protected by copyright law*, and I take my intellectual property as seriously as I take getting dressed every day.

Keep it chic,

Alexis

*i.e. That’s what the fine print at the very bottom of this page means.

Images via Giphy  (<—Here’s another way to attribute work you didn’t do or dream up by yourself. You’re welcome.)

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