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.

Thank you, Kate Spade.

“I adore pretty things and witty words.”

-KateSpade

The last thing I treated myself to before I left for medical leave was a Kate Spade plastic serving tray and matching tumbler printed with lemons. I figured that if I had to be housebound for weeks, at least I could try to be cheerful about it. After all, when life gives you lemons…do something glamorous with them.

I’ve carried an ink-stained red and pink Kate Spade canvas agenda for YEARS—bought for far too much money at a Belk charity sale when I was desperately unhappy about my work and love lives. It reminds me daily to be optimistic, that things can always get better. And in the age of online calendars, it’s decidedly old school…but so am I.

I wore black satin Kate Spade sandals with bows to stroll down the aisle and kick up my heels at my brother’s wedding. The bridesmaid’s dress is history but I still have the shoes.

I’ve decorated my office with Kate Spade postcards, stationery, storage boxes and knickknacks for cheer and inspiration. The day I got my biggest consulting client and wrote my biggest story, I made notes in a large coral Kate Spade leatherette padfolio that has the phrase “She wrote the book on it” embossed on the cover in gold. It reminds me that my creativity and femininity are strengths and that my talent is unquestionable.

Thank you, Kate Brosnahan Spade. You were quick and curious and playful and strong. You left a little sparkle wherever you went. You encouraged me and so many others to escape the ordinary, in style.

♠️🖤♠️

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

Find your #CarouselCatch at Bargain Carousel!

Haute off the press:

For some there is nothing more fun than bargain hunting! What if you could find a wide variety of unbelievable items at low prices and buying them would mean you were improving lives for women and children? The Junior League of Birmingham’s (JLB) annual Bargain Carousel makes this shopping experience a reality. (I have a things for unique housewares and always find something distinctive and fun at Bargain Carousel. Check out what I have my eye on in the photo gallery…I hope no one beats me to the punch!)

Bargain Carousel will kick off on Thursday, April 26 this year with Bargain Bash.

Bargain Bash is a casual cocktail party that offers first-chance shopping of Bargain Carousel items and impressive silent and live auctions including more than 150 items, such as original artwork and VIP travel packages. This year’s Bargain Bash is a fabulous fiesta sponsored by Publix Super Market Charities and catered by Taco Mama. Fun activities will include a tequila toss and piñatas with amazing prices. Har Megiddo, who was a crowd hit last year, is returning to spin the soundtrack for the evening.

For shoppers wanting the best selection and smaller crowds, VIP admission is the best choice, with 6 p.m. entry at $40 a ticket. Shoppers receive one hour of early bird shopping before general admission patrons enter. All guests enjoy food, beverages and the auctions. VIP admission is $40 a ticket and general admission (7 p.m. entry) is $30 a ticket. All Bargain Carousel items sell for double the ticket price during Bargain Bash.

Saturday and Sunday are a bargain hunter’s paradise, with more than 100,000 items for sale including art, appliances, furniture, heirloom items, baby and children’s clothing and furnishings, home décor, outdoors and sporting goods, and much more. Additionally, crafters and Pinterest lovers will be thrilled with the project pieces available. Bargain Carousel 2018 will begin on Saturday, April 28 (8 a.m. – 5 p.m.). Tickets from 8 – 12 Noon are $10/ticket and from Noon – 5 p.m. they are $5/ticket.   It continues Sunday, April 29 (1 – 5 p.m.) with free admission and half price merchandise.

“Bargain Carousel’s purpose is two-fold,” said JLB volunteer and Bargain Carousel chair, Marianne Gilchrist. “The sale raises money for the League’s 32 projects serving women and children in the metro area and it allows us to sell items at deeply discounted prices to individuals who can benefit from them.”

“Many people return to the event year after year,” Kristen Osborne, Junior League of Birmingham. “We have our Bargain Bash faithful who come in and buy antique pieces at double our retail price and we have hundreds of people who line up overnight for the general sale because they know they can get gently-used necessities at a price they can afford.”

Thanks to Baptist Health Foundation, Bargain Carousel will be held in Hoover just off of Exit 10 from I-459 in the old Princeton-Hoover location. The sale encompasses the entire shopping center with the main portion occurring in the former Winn-Dixie grocery store.

In 2017, more than 500 tickets were presold the day before Bargain Carousel opened its doors. People began lining up the night before to reserve their spot to pre-purchase tickets. This year, the pre-sale will be held at the sale location on Friday, April 27 from 2 – 6 p.m., where shoppers may purchase up to four tickets at $10/ticket to the Saturday sale.

A special note for the Saturday sale, all tickets are numbered, and shoppers will enter Bargain Carousel in the order of their ticket number. For information about Bargain Carousel 2018, call 205-879-9861, visit www.bargaincarousel.net“Like” Bargain Carousel on Facebook, or follow @jlbbargaincarousel on Instagram.

***

Want a chance to win a ticket to Bargain Carousel next Saturday? Comment “I want to find my #CarouselCatch” on this post! You can get extra entries by posting the same comment on the Bargain Carousel posts on the blog’s Facebook and Instagram pages. I’ll draw one winning entry on Saturday, April 21 at noon.

Tory Burch plans September 2017 opening at The Summit


This is NOT a drill:

The Summit will add a Tory Burch located between MAC Cosmetics and Ann Taylor–and it is scheduled to open in September 2017 (according to TB’s hiring website)! The lifestyle brand, including clothing, home goods, shoes, accessories,  activewear, watches and fragrances, is known for its prints and eclectic details. It is based on CEO Tory Burch’s life and loves, and is heavily influenced by her chic parents.

Burch built her billion-dollar empire from the ground up, and she’s leaving a legacy for other women entrepreneurs through the Tory Burch Foundation. The organization , which empowers women and girls to “Embrace Ambition,” provides resources including networking, mentoring and access to funding.

What I love about the line is the fine craftsmanship and the signature touches that make her pieces so distinctive. Let’s not forget, she helped make fitness wearables chic by re-imagining them as jewelry! We see a lot of Miller sandals and Reva flats here and the smaller handbags and clutches are quite popular for game day, so I imagine the line at the stores grand opening will be quite long. In my experience, not only are the designs beautiful, the stores are as well (with each having their own custom flair, as you can see in the pictures above) — and the customer service is superb.

If you’re interested, the store is now hiring sales associates and key holders. And to really get excited, click here to watch the Fall ready-to-wear show.

Stay tuned for updates!

All images via ToryBurch.com

Watch Alexis on Talk of Alabama — Monday, June 19!

Lifestyle expert Alexis Barton shares tips on Talk of Alabama
Do you like shopping? How about giveaways? Toss some sequins and tune in to ABC 33/40’s Talk of Alabama on Monday, June 19: I’ll be sharing some news you can use during the 9:00 A.M. hour! Darlings, this is one you won’t want to miss! 

Not in the local viewing area? You can live-streaming it by clicking HERE, or catch the video when it’s posted later by clicking HERE.

Xo, Alexis

Zuvaa pop-up shop coming to Birmingham

Yasssss! We love everything about Zuvaa, the global retailer featuring African fashion. It was a line we have had to love from afar (or at least, via the internet)–until now.

Zuvaa will strut into Birmingham to host a pop-up shop (bringing international fabulosity to our doorsteps!) at the Riverchase Galleria on June 3 and 4, 2017. Entry is free, but you must register via Eventbrite. Get your tickets here

Happy shopping! 

Image via Zuvaa

Warby Parker opens in Birmingham April 8

The retail gods are answering prayers in Birmingham: we have a Trader Joe’s, H&M…and on Saturday April 8, we’ll officially have a WARBY PARKER!

If you aren’t familiar with the affordable and very chic purveyor of eyewear, you should be.  It launched in 2010 as an online destination for eyeglasses under $100, and quickly distinguished itself by offering eyeglasses people actually wanted to wear at (gasp!) prices they could afford.  The only hitch: there were no brick and mortar stores to try on the glasses, although you could make a selection to try on in the comfort of your home (and return the pair(s) that didn’t work.)

But now Warby Parker is opening its first store in Alabama, and at The Pizitz, no less. I toured the new digs and I have to say: I can’t wait to get my prescription filled.

The store is thoughtfully designed with tons of natural light (the better for trying on new frames). It feels more like you’re in a hip bookstore than an eyewear boutique, and this feeling is enhanced by multiple book displays, card catalogs (remember those?), globe lighting and even a Reference Desk, where you can receive help.  A bright blue mural balances the decor, which carries over into the classic, utilitarian unifoms designed by Whitney Pozgay (who we had the pleasure of meeting at a CFDA event in Atlanta years ago!).

The generous team at Warby Parker gifted me with a pair of “Pearl” sunglasses in Marzipan Tortoise, and I have to say: I’m in love with them.  I plan to add the “Tilley” (in Grapefruit Soda) to my collection next. The other thing I love about Warby Parker is they offer free returns and free shipping (always!), so you aren’t penalized for being indecisive! They will also repair your scratched lenses for free the first 12 months you own them.

To celebrate the brand’s new presence in the Magic City, a limited-edition pair of Birmingham-exclusive sunglasses, Madison in English Oak with Flash Mirrored Pacific Blue lenses, is being offered. And a lenscloth with a print of the mural is given away with each purchase.

Warby Parker at The Pizitz is located at 1821 2nd Avenue North / Birmingham, Alabama 35203. It’s open Monday through Friday, 11:00 a.m.–8:00 p.m. and Saturday through Sunday, 12:00 p.m.–6:00 p.m.

*I was not compensated for this post although I did receive a pair of sunglasses as a gift. The thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own.

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