A “little” news…

Anything is possible. I know that for real, now.

“The Finer Things” is the cover story for The Washington Post Magazine’s special fall Home & Design issue (available in print now), and yours truly is on the cover. It feels very surreal, and I’ve been overwhelmed by the response. Thank you to the team at The Washington Post Magazine, photographer Andi Rice, Courtney Kirk (hair), and Kim Colvin (makeup), and to Juniper. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who has celebrated with me this week. I feel the love and am humbled by it.

As you read, I’m by far not the most gifted person on either side of my family.

The fabulous four: my grandparents, all dressed up for my parents’ wedding.

When you see me, I hope you see the very best of my parents, and of Mr. and Mrs. Jesse H. Crawford, Sr., and Mr. and Mrs. Edd L. Barton I reflected: their style, their work ethic, their good sense and gumption, their self-respect and easy elegance, their talent, their wit, their intellect, their resolve, and — most of all — their faith.

They left big (and fabulous!) shoes to fill, which is partly why I appeared barefoot in the photos. I’ll always try to live up to their example.

Alexis E. Barton, photographed by Andi Rice at Juniper for The Washington Post Magazine.

Love, Alexis

P.S. To order a copy, visit The Washington Post’s site where you can order back issues. Select the second option for Back Issues and then select “select a different issue.” Choose Sept. 18, 2022, adjust the quantity as desired and enter your mailing address, then place your order. Issues are $10 each, which includes shipping an handling. (Note: this issue was part of the Sunday, Sept. 18 paper, so you’ll receive the issue tucked into the newspaper.)

In which I overshare on Roy’s Job Fair

Tune in!

It’s a vibe. You can listen here: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/roys-job-fair/id1557272095?i=1000568095278

This is long overdue…

If you came here for a think piece, this ain’t it. When you’ve been in the house two years, what you create is inspired by what you experienced in solitude and what you wish to experience once you return outside.

Stay tuned.

Dear Cheslie…

I didn’t know Cheslie Kryst personally.

I have no particular personal, or professional insight into her life or any struggles she may have had.

But I saw her in Essence’s issue celebrating the triumphant triumvirate of historic Black pageant queens.

I saw her in her Miss Universe costume: an elegant platinum, gold and white-winged bird, uncaged and carrying Justice’s scales.

I saw her—super sharp, super talented, super chic—on ‘Extra.’

I read her essay in Allure.

I saw the news reports that she’d fallen to her death this past Sunday. Read that she’d left a note.

I saw her.

I see our Black queens, of all ages, economic backgrounds, and occupations, drowning every day right in front of our eyes, poised in public but crying off camera, dying inside while living their best lives in carefully posed and filtered and hashtagged social media posts.

You might look at someone like Cheslie and wonder, “What did she have to be sad about?”

You might look at me and wonder the same.

And that’s part of the problem.

Our varied crowns are heavy, sometimes even more so when they are invisible. We are buckling under their pressure. We are not often allowed to take them off—or the loads on our backs, hearts, and in our arms—not even for a minute.

We often can’t afford to. The narrow pedestal we are put on—or that we scramble to climb, or that we race up—demands we stand erect while bearing the weight of the world, often at an unbearable cost.

We know people are depending on us. We want to do our best, to make you proud, to achieve before our time is up. And that clock is ticking so loud—is there time enough to do or be it all?

Can we out-stride the pressure, the fear, the racism, the imposter syndrome, the naysayers? Our own expectations and limitations?

No. There’s never enough time.

We’re judged and discounted when we aren’t perfect. When we don’t push through. When we say, “No.” When we prioritize our healing, self-care, fulfillment, and joy.

Like Naomi. Or Simone. Or Janet. Or any number of women who fiercely protect their energy, their time, and their privacy against the demands of a public who believe they are owed much, much more.

Just because you see someone’s posts—famous or not—doesn’t mean you own or even fully know their narrative.

“Stand up straight. Smile!”

I see you looking. But do you see us? Do you know someone can look like they’re flying when they’re actually falling?

“Hold your head up. Fix your face.”

I see you.

Flawless, multi-talented, ambitious, and articulate.

Exhausted, traumatized, burned out, anxious, depressed, and trying desperately to keep going. Praying life begins at 30.

At 40.

Praying that it’s not too late to start over, to get there, to leave storms and clouds in the distance.

I am so close…

I recognize your pain and desire for peace of mind. I know you ache for real rest: the kind that allows you to soar sky high, then find a cruising altitude without sacrificing your mental, emotional, and physical health to an inevitable free fall.

I see you.

And I don’t want the soft place any of us land to be a casket.

***

If you or someone you know need help:

  • Crisis Center Crisis & Suicide Line: 205-323-7777
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK

Additional Resources:

Your latest Quarantine Update finds me exhausted, 40 pounds lighter and in a contemplative mood:

I am complete but never finished. I have a lot to say, but not a single thing to prove. It took me a long time to figure that out.

This has been an incredibly difficult year but despite the fear, grief, helplessness, stress, and sadness I’ve felt since March, I’ve tried to focus on gratitude for its many joys: an abundance of love…knowing that I am divinely cared for…joining BBVA and seeing the power of words during simultaneous crises…being heard all over on NPR…the Barbie piece…being accepted into a competitive writing workshop…and finally growing my hair to my bra strap. (The pandemic has not reduced my vanity.) As for the rest: I’m enduring and surviving it. With God’s help, I’ll make it.

Despite so much uncertainty, I’m at peace with myself. And I’m looking forward to the best that is sure to come.

Love, Alexis

Yes, things have changed.

We’re over it.

No matter where you are reading this, I know to some degree what you may have experienced over the last nearly six months.

You may be working from home.

You probably are wearing a mask when you leave your home. (I hope.)

Your socializing has been curtailed.

You pay much, much more attention to cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting your home, car, groceries and self. You’re social distancing, and Zooming, and you’ve probably danced in Club Quarantine with D-Nice at least twice.

You either know someone who has had or died COVID-19. You may have been tested for it or had it yourself. And if not, maybe it’s consumed your thoughts. You wish life would go back to the way it was while knowing it will never, ever be that way again.

Same.

So I don’t feel comfortable sharing outfit posts or “lifestyle tips” anymore, not even on quarantine couture or my process for safely grocery shopping. It feels tone deaf and privileged in a way that is extremely narcissistic and gross in its attention-seeking. It was fun while it lasted but it doesn’t reflect what I spend most of my time thinking about or doing, or who I am. And honestly: it never did, outside of showing you a carefully curated slice of who I am and what I enjoy.

But I do want to acknowledge this space as a place to remember exactly what this time is like, in a way that feels appropriate. I do want to document how we carry on. If no other phrase accurately describes this time for me, “same chic different day” does—although my brand of chic is leaning toward cut off shorts, house slippers and lots of self care (reading, running, and praying) in solitude.

So I’ll resume posting periodically, but they may not look like anything I’ve done before (as you probably have already noticed).

But I’m still here. And if you’re reading this, so are you. That’s something to be extremely thankful for. For today what I want you to know is: I hope you’re safe and well. Mask on, and mask up.

Alexis

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


Via IG/@idontdoclubs

She’d put on her fabulous cuffs, snatch up her Lasso of Truth, put the invisible plane in gear and deal with it…

Via Beehive Fort Worth’s IG

I stand with April Ryan & Maxine Waters.

AEB2
On being one of many #BlackWomenatWork:
I remember when someone at a previous job gifted me with $5 in play money to “thank me” for a job well done. I remember being told to “smile more” as if I had been hired to provide some sort of reassurance, comfort or entertainment. I remember being constantly made to move, “musical chairs-style” in an office with plenty to spare. I remember being yelled at, cursed at and talked to worse than one would a dog. I remember watching others get away with coming in late and leaving early, when I could take 2 vacation days in a quarter and then be asked to account for “excessive use of time off.”
I remember being point blank asked how I could possibly afford my  designer handbags, shoes or my car. I remember being saddled with other people’s work while they were free to vacation, or simply take up space. I remember other people doing much less and being celebrated, while I could work from here to Kingdom Come and it still wasn’t good enough for a raise, recognition or some other reward. I remember mine being the only black face some people saw except for the cleaning, catering or maintenance people. I remember being asked about crime levels in certain areas of town as if I were the expert on such matters (um, I’m from a RURAL area).
I remember a million micro aggressions including being laughed at repeatedly in a classroom setting as I presented serious research. (That was a straw.) So was having to explain to someone older than I am–yet subordinate to me–why using profanity to talk to me was unacceptable.  Let’s not even go into the rude comments on my hair or the many attempts people have made to put their hands in it.
“Twice as good” is a concept that was drummed into me from the womb.
I needed those jobs, so like most black women I kept my head up, I swallowed a lot of tears and righteous anger,  I ignored a lot of disrespect and I kept pushing. I KEEP PUSHING. Black women typically don’t have much of a choice to do otherwise. I left each of those experiences on my own terms (“always stay gracious; best revenge is your paper”–be it degrees or cash). I wasn’t ever a perfect employee (who is?), but I worked hard. I work hard, still.
Even if it goes without external recognition.  Especially when it does.
I validate and reward myself. #MartyTaughtMe
To be clear: there are countless women who came before me and had it much, much harder. I thank them for enduring and making my way a bit smoother, for the blueprint they left. This isn’t a rant, screed or complaint. It’s merely a series of observations collected over time and added to a narrative. Only by being open about our experiences can we change the pervasive part of our culture that supports Zora Neale Hurston’s words published in 1937:  “The [black] woman is the mule of the world.”
After all, as she also pointed out, “If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.”
The rules, expectations and assumptions levied at people who look like me are vastly different and applied on a constantly shifting plane. They are set up so you always fail someone, somewhere or fall short in some way for which you can never quiiiiiiite never atone. They are designed to make you feel less-than and to justify paying you less or failing to promote you. They are bent on teaching — and/or keeping — you in your “place.”
But I’m grateful for what those experiences reinforced in me:
img_1687
Deal with it.
*Follow Same Chic Different Day on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
(Note: I don’t own the graphic posted above. I just received it in a text and thought it was cool! The featured image of me was shot by Derrick L. Curry of Camera Play Photography.)

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: