Access November 2021 Magazine

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The new frontier: Mental health Special LOCAL HELP, HOPE + LOOKING OUT FOR LOVED ONES


2021 Gift Guide


More Than A Magazine! ACCESSTHEBAY.COM November 2021






6611 Wall Street • Mobile, AL 36695 | 251.607.0110 - local | 111 W. Church Street • Jackson, AL 36545 | 877.660.1103 - toll–free |

from the EDITOR...


s an overly curious person, tackling a topic like mental health is both exhilarating and stressful. Walking through the doors of various local professionals in the mental health universe, I was met with a tsunami-sized red alert button reaction. It’s a world full of bustling and engaged heroes busier than any editor I’ve ever met at 10 minutes to deadline, all working diligently to help us with our often-silent struggles. Learning the suicide rate in our state is almost double the national average and hearing about the skyrocketing effects of the pandemic like anxiety, depression, and PTSD, I noticed a common thread: much of what ails us can be traced to isolation. Thinking, “Yeah, I get what isolation is,” I quickly realized I had no idea. A vital human need, I was surprised to learn how often people self-isolate thinking they’re making a good choice. Throw in our screen addictions and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. I think it boils down to the fact that no one actually chooses to be alone physically and mentally. People often make it a lifestyle that unbeknownst to them robs them of all their possible joy. That’s why open and shame-free conversation is so important. People are suffering; don’t wait for them to reach out. I walked away smarter and better prepared for what seems to be in every corner of our lives, and I hope you do, too. The best part? The Bay area is full of top-notch, compassionate providers to help us find the best way forward. Of course, the holiday season is also upon us, and true to tradition, ACCESS scooped up the best local gifts to give and get. Why not skip the shipping delays and support our shops? That’s definitely a mood-booster for all parties involved! Enjoy, and wishing you all health and happiness!







Local Happenings A lively street party at the Mobile Carnival Museum made Jazzy Sunday with Mobile Ballet a hit, Bay beauties lined up for the premiere of The Princess and The Frog, and Donna Ward’s soirée paired baseball and shoes for a cause.


Athlete Spotlight


Women in Leadership Spotlight


Mental Health Special


Gift Guide


The Little Whiskey Rebrand



Meet the Chaos Creators from UMS-Wright Preparatory School.

Tech powerhouse Devon Harris, vice president and co-owner of OberaConnect, LLC, is one to watch!

We spoke in-depth to some of our area’s top mental health practitioners to provide the latest information on mental health and local resources from psychiatry and therapy to lesser-known methods aimed at helping you feel your best. Holiday shopping made easy! Handpicked by ACCESS, we promise you can’t go wrong gifting these finds to family, friends, and maybe even yourself, all while supporting our local businesses.

Having worked at some our nation’s top restaurants, Chef William Alexander has returned home to Fairhope and is creating culinary masterpieces at The Little Whiskey.

Southern Women’s Specialists redefine midlife with pleasing aesthetics and artist extraordinaire B’Beth Weldon shares her latest Greek adventures and work.


Cover Image Stevye Photography, Makeup Courtney Matthews Makeup Artistry, Hair Jason Chambers, Headdress Salon, 251.689.7427 Shot on Location at The Lodge at Gumbo South, Bethany: Sweater, $119, Heels, $118; Dillard’s, 251.471.1551. Pants, $14.99; Hertha’s Second Edition, 251.517.1197. Coat, Stylist’s Own. Suzanne: Dress, $159, Boots, $119.99; Dillard’s, 251.471.1551. Beret, Stylist’s Own. Leigh: Sweater, $119, Boots, $229; Dillard’s, 251.471.1551. Gauchos + Coat, Stylist’s Own. Earrings, $108; Hemline, 251.287.6875


Manuscripts, photos and art material will be considered, but will be recieved only with the understanding that the magazine or its employees shall not be responsible for loss or damage, unless otherwise agreed to in writing. All contents @Hayley Hill Style Access, LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part without permission is prohibited. ACCESS mobile.baldwin is published 10 times per year. Subscription rate is $21.95 per year. All subscription inquiries should be mailed to P.O. Box 8586, Mobile, AL 36689-8586 or visit If the post office alerts us that your magazine is undeliverable, we have no further obligation unless we receive a corrected address within two years.

T H E U N S TO P PA B L E MOBILE BALLET Bravo, Mobile Ballet! A standing ovation goes to all those involved in bringing Artistic Director Katia Garza’s larger-than-life vision of customizing The Princess and the Frog to center around Mobile and our Mardi Gras to fruition! A born-for-it sensation, Victoria Blakely stole the show as the company’s first African American lead and wowed audiences in this fairytale favorite turned Alabama classic. Furthermore, Katia partnered with The Pact Theatre Company to incorporate live singers into the performance and the Bay’s beloved Ron Barrett to set the stage for their first Saenger Theater show. On a roll, Mobile Ballet hosted Jazzy Sunday, a chic downtown fundraiser, and ACCESS snapped pics of future princesses at the sold-out matinée performance. By Hayley Hill Photos Layla Lambert,

Honorees Ron Barrett and Barbara Corte

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OCTOBER 15, 2021 JUNE 12, 2022

111 S. Royal Street | (251) 208-7569

Ashton Hennig, Jill Ringold, Mary Frances Clarke, Ashley Jones, and Edie Terreson

Jim Sapser, Ron Barrett, and Greg Thornton

8 ACCESS Magazine / October 2021

Cassaundra and William Burks

Victoria Blakely and Deidre Butler



Mobile 1533 East Interstate 65, Service Rd. S., Mobile AL 36606 · (251) 459-8995 · M–F 8:30 a.m.–7 p.m., Sat. 8:30 a.m.–6 p.m.

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Henley and Courtney Kelly with Sandra and Jim Parker

Tracy, Del, Barbara, Teal, and Dana Corte

Israel Rodriguez and Katia Garza

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Ron Barrett and Barbara Corte

PROVEN RESULTS FROM THE BAY’S MOST PROVEN COSMETIC SURGEON + SPECIALIST DR. JAMES KOEHLER is not only one of the Bay area’s leading cosmetic surgeons, he is sought after for global live surgical workshops, where he teaches doctors the art of cosmetic procedures. Before


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HOLLY JOLLY HOLIDAY PARTY DECEMBER 2, 2021 9 A.M. TO 4 P.M. Featuring one-day-only specials, demonstrations, door prizes and refreshments. Gift packages and gift cards also will be available for purchase. Call 251-341-4094 to pre-purchase specials on December 1 and December 2.


Kimberly Donnellan, M.D., F.A.C.S. Call 251-341-4094 to make an appointment. 2505 Old Shell Road Mobile, AL 36607 Dr.Donnellan Dr.DonnellanSkinAndLaserCenter

A NIGHT OF HOPE What pairs better than beautiful shoes and baseball? Local fans of both enjoyed a posh fundraiser at Daphne’s Shoe Boutique in — you guessed it — downtown Daphne. Having endured more than 10 unnecessary reconstructive surgeries after a double mastectomy, Donna Ward and husband Turner Ward (a former Major League Baseball player turned coach), started Hope 4110. This charitable foundation assists women not only battling breast cancer, but educates them on their reconstruction options, too. With an auction chock full of MLB must-haves and more, they knocked it out of the park. By Hayley Hill Photos Frank Lee Roberts

Custom sneakers for Donna and fundraising by Claire Flowers! Try The Donna in gold or The Hope in silver, $140, 314.221.8687.

Shoe Designer Claire Flowers, Daphne’s Shoe Boutique owner Daphne Robinson, and Donna Ward

“Our foundation, Hope 4110, raises much-needed funds to help women with everything from medical fees to travel expenses. Facing breast cancer reconstruction alone is hard, and I walk this journey with them to ensure they know their treatment options and to encourage them to never lose hope.” — Donna Ward, Founder + Author of “Unexpected Hope”

The Wards: Turner, Kendall, Donna, Olin, Tucker, and Charlie

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The Stokleys: Blaine, Maddie, Maddox, Amanda, and friend

Carol Mott, Kendall Ward, Shirley Guy, Donna Ward, Kelly Johnson, and Chrissy Burns

Auction MLB memorabilia from Boston Red Sox, Kike Hernandez of the Boston Red Sox, and LA Dodgers Justin Turner and A.J. Pollock

Kyle Mace, Ben White, and Christy Khonesavanh

Call For Your Next Eye Exam! FAIRHOPE 7 South Church Street, Suite D Fairhope, AL 36532 251. 929.0015 BIRMINGHAM 2814 18th Street South Homewood, AL 35209 205. 703.8596


LU NG C A NCER SCR EEN I NGS & You “Take a deep breath for me. One more time. Good, good.” For many of us, these are standard statements during routine checkups. But what happens when the doc hesitates? Alabama Medical Group’s newest specialist, Dr. Brandon F. Bodie, shares the ins and outs of lung cancer screenings and diagnosis. By Jessica Goolsby Photos Stevye Photography

ung cancer. It’s a terrifying diagnosis, particularly for those of us who grew up watching the CDC’s string of Tips from Former Smokers ads that ran daily nearly a decade ago featuring folks living with the drastic and oftentimes life-altering consequences of their choices. Widely known today, the most common environmental contributor to lung cancer is smoking, and to a lesser extent, exposure to secondhand smoke, with exposure to asbestos and radon bringing up the rear. Though not fully understood, genetics can also play a role, as first-degree relatives of lung cancer patients have a two- to threefold excess risk of lung cancer, many of which are not smoking-related. That’s where screenings come into play. “Lung cancer is usually asymptomatic during its early stages,” details Dr. Brandon F. Bodie, the most recent addition to the team at AMG. Board-certified in Internal Medicine, Dr. Bodie joins AMG this month having recently completed a three-year residency at LSU Health Sciences Center in Baton Rouge. “One of my first patients in my internal medicine rotations was a pleasant older woman with an extenprimary care clinic with care providers like sive smoking history,” Dr. Bodie recalls. “She those at Alabama Medical Group,” Dr. Bodie came in with new onset shortness of breath and weight loss. Before admission, she was healthy assures. and independent. She was noted to have exten- But who is most at risk? “Smokers are most susceptible to contracting lung cancer, with sive metastatic small cell lung cancer at the time of diagnosis, and she decompensated so rapidly an increasing incidence from age 40 to age 80,” Dr. Bodie explains. We’re not surprised. within her brief hospitalization that she chose hospice at discharge. At the time of her presen- Smokers are 25 times more likely to develop lung cancer (even after they quit) than those tation, she was no longer in the age group that would qualify for lung cancer screening, as lung who do not smoke, as cigarettes contain more than 7,000 chemicals, at least 69 of which can cancer screening is a relatively new practice cause cancer. “These substances include polywith the first major randomized controlled trial results published in 2011. Regardless, her story cyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, nitrosamines, illustrates the importance of lung cancer screen- formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, and benzene, in addition to various metals,” Dr. Bodie lists. ing in those that meet inclusion criteria.” For Dr. Bodie, this patient’s story and others “These compounds are acted upon by metabolizlike it highlight the utility of screening in high- ing enzymes, and in the process form reactive risk patients. “Though symptoms may vary intermediates which can cause DNA damage that if overlooked by our DNA repair enzymes based on the type of lung cancer, some common can lead to cancer.” It should be noted that symptoms include cough (with or without though the risk remains elevated in former blood), shortness of breath, fatigue, weight loss, fevers, and hoarseness,” he says, adding smokers compared to non-smokers, former smokers have a lower incidence of lung cancer that many of the symptoms of lung cancer are than active smokers. “Furthermore, stopping also symptoms of other pathologies. “These smoking before middle age avoids more than symptoms can be effectively addressed at a 16 ACCESS Magazine / October 2021

90 percent of the lung cancer risk attributable to tobacco,” Dr. Bodie shares. “Males are slightly more likely to get lung cancer than females (lifetime incidence of roughly 8 percent among males and 6 percent among females), and overall, African Americans have the highest rates of lung cancer.” The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommends that anyone who has smoked for 20 pack-years (the product of the number of packs one smokes in a day multiplied by the number of years one has smoked) and is either A) an active smoker, or B) has quit within the last 15 years is eligible for annual lung cancer screenings beginning at the age of 50 through age 80. “AMG offers low dose CT lung cancer screening for qualified individuals,” Dr. Bodie notes. “Low-dose CT lung cancer screening ideally identifies lung cancer early in its disease course before onset of symptoms. As lung cancer is detected earlier with less spread, there is better chance for treatment with curative intent, usually by surgical excision.” In patients with a diagnosis of lung cancer, Dr. Bodie says AMG sends referrals to qualified specialists for co-management of their care. “Palliative care experts help patients navigate the difficult world of oncology, and studies even demonstrate improved survival in certain patients with metastatic lung cancer participating in palliative care,” he states. All told, Dr. Bodie insists one of the most important decisions one can make for their health is to quit smoking (or avoid it altogether). “There are numerous treatments available that are effective at helping patients kick the habit for good,” he shares. And where there’s a will, there’s a way.

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T E A M SPOT L IGH T: UMS-Wright 4th Grade Football Team, AKA The Chaos Creators By Hayley Hill Photos Layla Lambert,

Sponsor and all-around great guy Jason Pilger of Jason Pilger Automotive turned the spotlight on the rambunctious young team he and four other dedicated dads coach. Referring to themselves as the “Chaos Creators,” he and Head Coach Brad Israel share a bit about this wild adventure.


eing an exceptional father is no easy task, especially when it comes to raising busy boys. Each with a son on the team, Billy Williams, Sam Winter, Mark Fillers, Jason Pilger, and Brad Israel make up the dad squad-turned coaches. All successful with demanding careers, they weren’t sure what coaching 4th grade boys would entail. Now well into the season, we’re happy to report they wouldn’t have it any other way. For Head Coach, Brad “Out of 23 kids, only three had ever played tackle football, so watching them develop has been incredible. It’s reaffirmed why UMS is such a special school, as most of these boys have been buddies since kindergarten. One day, they’ll play together under the lights at Ervin S. Cooper Stadium. They’ll also enjoy lifelong relationships like I did after attending this school. I still work or stay in touch with dozens of fellow athletes and classmates because of the character, drive, and discipline instilled in us through this institution.” Agreeing, Jason recalls the beginning, sharing, “When we started in August, many of the players didn’t even know how to buckle their chin straps or put in a mouthpiece. The best way to build the program UMS-Wright has established is about teaching the commitment it takes to be great and to build a cohesive team that relies on each other, not one individual.” For Brad, it came down to a military mantra from his service days. “We began by preaching attitude, discipline, and effort, and the boys embraced this!” As for the coaches, Brad tells us, “Coaching is a huge commitment and I’m so fortunate to have these great men at every game and practice. It’s humbling to watch my son, Lyon, who had never played, become a Chaos Creator as he works his way to blow up every offensive play he can with what he’s learned through these coaches.” Difficult to install from scratch, Jason is proud of their offense and adds, “Coaching our offense has been about teaching our players everything from the basics to how to carry out complex plays, and they’ve risen to the challenge. Matthew Wills, Nathan LaCoste, and Carson Moore took to it quickly and provided leadership and direction for the offensive line. Cayden Odom’s and Price Williams’ experience playing tight end helped us immediately, too.”

18 ACCESS Magazine / October 2021

The coaches are also proud of their four running backs: Chase Weaver, B. Wood, Che Hope, and Jack Carl. “Coach Jason’s son, Conner, has a natural gift for understanding the game and making plays on both sides of the ball,” Brad shares. “Recently, he carried the team with 85 yards passing and over 200 yards rushing, as well as playing free safety on defense and contributing to the 24-0 pounding over rival St. Paul’s. I’ve also enjoyed watching Bradley Wynn, Jackson Purdue, Everett Kuo, Sam Winter, Ford Boehm, Mills Schultz, and Jack Thompson. We’re so much further along than I was in 7th grade playing for the first time!” Brad jokes. “‘Chaos Creators’ best describes our defense, and it’s truly fun to watch,” Jason adds. “They’ve even shut out a few teams. The more they can invade and disrupt the backfield, the more fun they all have. Each one has carried our defense throughout the season with plays from sacks and caused fumbles to touchdown interceptions.” Whether it’s wrangling these energetic boys into practice or pacing the sidelines during the games, it’s pretty clear these coaches are perhaps enjoying the chaos the most. But touchdown tallies aside, dads this excited and engaged are the clear winners.

“‘Chaos Creators’ best describes our defense, and it’s truly fun to watch. The more they can invade and disrupt the backfield, the more fun they all have!” - Jason Pilger





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SAM WINTERS, OFFENSIVE LINE COACH OFFENSIVE LINE Back Row (Left to Right): Price Williams, Everett Kuo, Jackson Perdue, Carson Moore, & Nathan LaCoste Front Row: Matthew Wills, Bradley Wynn, & Cayden Odom

JASON PILGER, OFFENSE COACH, & BRAD ISRAEL, HEAD COACH OFFENSE Back Row (Left to Right): Che Hope, B. Wood, & Jack Carl Front Row: Chase Weaver & Connor Pilger 20 ACCESS Magazine / October 2021

SEE HOW WE ARE TRANSFORMING LUNG CANCER CARE. USA Health Mitchell Cancer Institute (MCI) is introducing the Monarch™ Platform to the Gulf Coast region. As a new and innovative technology for diagnosing lung cancer, Mitchell Cancer Institute is one of only 80 locations in the country to offer Monarch™. The Monarch™ Platform allows our pulmonary partners to accurately access small and hard-to-reach lung nodules early for diagnosing and targeting treatment. Rapid On-Site Evaluation (ROSE Pathology) provides real-time pathology and allows our team to expedite personalized treatments for our lung cancer patients. Mitchell Cancer Institute continues to provide the most advanced options in the diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer through its unmatched comprehensive lung cancer program. We are translating the latest discoveries in lung cancer into truly transforming how we prevent, diagnose and treat lung cancer. | 251.410.1010



MARK FILLERS, DEFENSIVE LINE COACH DEFENSIVE LINE Back Row (Left to Right): Carson Moore, Nathan LaCoste, Matthew Wills, & Cayden Odom Front Row: Ford Boehm, Mason Bui, Jack Thompson, & Sam Winter

BILLY WILLIAMS, DEFENSE COACH, & BRAD ISRAEL, HEAD COACH DEFENSE Back Row (Left to Right): Che Hope, Price Williams, Lyon Israel, & James Fillers Front Row: B. Wood, Connor Pilger, Beeland McGowin, & Jacob Roe

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22 ACCESS Magazine / October 2021

Nancy Harvell


MAKING A CONNECTION For some, the word “technology” induces head spinning and skyrocketing anxiety. It’s too confusing, everchanging, and makes us feel as helpless as a trip to the phone store. Wishing for someone who could wave a magic wand and bring a user-friendly digital vision to fruition seems like a pipe dream, but Fairhope’s Devon Harris is here to do just that. A down-to-Earth, vivacious tech leader, she’s the one we’ve all been looking for. By Jessica Goolsby Photos Stevye Photography,

Top, $118, Skirt, $138; The Holiday, 251.432.4911. Earrings, $135; CK Collection, 251.990.9001. Bangle, $210; Five Gold Monkeys, 251.344.4051.

Makeup Matthews Makeup Artistry, Hair Jason Chambers, Headdress Salon, 251.689.7427

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Devon: Dress, $84; Dillard’s, 251.471.1551. Blazer, $70; The Mix, 251.217.2916. Earrings, $20; Hemline, 251.287.6875. Necklace, $38; Five Gold Monkeys, 251.344.4051. Madison: Top, $65, Earrings, $29; The Holiday, 251.432.4911. Skirt, $98; Debra’s, 251.343.7463.


eeting for coffee after carpool at Fairhope’s Provisions, one thing’s clear: Devon Harris is on top of her game and someone we’d all like to have on speed dial. With an infectious laugh and energetic disposition, she and her equally enthusiastic sidekick, Madison Cruz, both exude that “boss babe” vibe in all things tech and motherhood. Both coincidentally dressed in hunter boots and black and white ensembles, it’s obvious that great minds think alike.

A true entrepreneur, Devon has helped her company, OberaConnect, LLC, grow astronomically. Having worked in telecom for the last decade, Devon says when the opportunity arose to run the business, she didn’t hesitate. Juggling roles from sales and service to management, business development, and daily operations as the vice president and co-owner, Devon can be found everywhere from the trenches alongside her installers to a posh luncheon with large developers. Simply put, she wears a lot of hats. When it comes to leadership specifically, she doesn’t sit back. “We work together on every project as a team,” Devon says. “I lead by example and work hard to motivate, create a fun atmosphere, and build each person up to let them know what an asset they are.” Typically dominated by men, Devon says common misconceptions about the tech industry (and a woman’s place in it) run the gamut. “As women in the tech world, we have to prove ourselves more and work even harder,” she shares. “I respond with action and through the work we deliver. Fortunately, I’m a multitasker, an organizer, a connector of people, and a great communicator. My approach is simple: dive deep, break it down, simplify the solution, and deliver it headache-free to each client,” she asserts. So, what exactly does she do? “OberaConnect means connectivity simplified,” Devon details. “Our job is to assess a company and find the right solutions for its needs to make the organization run smoothly on the technology side. This includes smaller business needs like phone lines and internet connection to larger jobs where we provide services for multi-location banks, developments, retail malls, and any business that needs a wider range of services. Think anything from cable internet to fiber optic internet, phone systems, VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), cloud services, TV solutions, structured cabling, security cameras, equipment, monitoring and management of core network devices, Microsoft O365, managed fire walls, servers, desktop management, and more.”

With our heads spinning, Devon laughs and shares why potential clients shouldn’t be embarrassed about not knowing her world. “Technology is intimidating and people often shy away from it because they don’t understand it. We don’t want that!” Perhaps the best part is the fact that she proudly brings all her female capabilities to each job. Committed, she invests the necessary time to ensure clients and their teams comprehend the systems, why they’re needed, and more with patience, enthusiasm, and easy-to-digest terminology. Locally, many small business owners have had negative technology experiences. A hot topic for Devon, she shares, “We’re a small company, too. Living on the Eastern Shore where the presence of small businesses is such a huge part of the community, we look to support them any way we can. From providing lower costs, increasing speeds or security, improving existing services, and more, we’re all over it,” Devon assures, adding OberaConnect is in it for the long haul and prioritizes building personal relationships, not just a business. “We won’t even take a job until all options have been vetted and clients are completely confident in our plan,” she says. “We want that one-on-one time with our clients. For me, it’s all about that personal touch. Whether you’re a small business with minimal needs or you’re an ISP building your own network, we’re here so you can run your business, not your technology.” Obviously, this approach is working. “We service clients in all 50 states, with most based in Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, and Texas,” Devon shares. “Our focus is to stay ahead in this rapidly changing world of technology. Every day something new and exciting is being put out there and it’s our job to find the right solution for our customers, big or small,” she says. A resident and true fan of Baldwin County for 20 years, Devon adds, “To be a part of the amazing growth in the Bay area is special. We’re excited for what the future holds, and we want developers to know OberaConnect is a staple in the community and that we have the right solutions to meet their growing needs. As Zig Ziglar said, ‘If you are not willing to learn, no one can help you. If you are determined to learn, no one can stop you.’” As a wife and mother she also aims to gracefully balance life and family like the rest of us and is grateful for her support system. While many follow the adage, “Don’t mix business with family,” Devon says apprehension of utilizing her father John Richardson’s indepth experience in the business was never a concern. “At work, Dad’s John; outside of work, he’s Dad,” she emphasizes. “It keeps a very clear divider between our lives and as co-owners, we work extremely well together. While he doesn’t reside in this area, his knowledge, experience, mentorship, and leadership is priceless. Plus, owning my own business has always been a dream of mine and being able to do that with my father tops the cake!” Adding to the support, Devon’s right-hand gal, Madison Cruz, not only further crushes the misconception that women and tech don’t mix, but she’s on board for friend duties, too. For this dynamic duo, creating new partnerships and maintaining current client relationships is standard operating procedure. “I cannot think of anyone else I’d rather do this day-to-day with,” Devon shares. “Madison is reliable, accountable, dependable, trustworthy, and gives 150 percent. I know without a doubt if she’s handling something, she’s getting it done and getting it done right! More than a colleague, she’s family, and we

EMAIL: or for more information.

OberaConnect, LLC 22765 U.S. Hwy. 98 Unit B-11 Fairhope, AL 251.308.4592

26 ACCESS Magazine / October 2021

Devon Top Photo: Top, $348; CK Collection, 251.990.9001. Jacket, $89; Dillard’s, 251.471.1551. Bottom Photo: Top, $69; Dillard’s, 251.471.1551. Earrings, $155; CK Collection, 251.990.9001. Madison: Top, $335; Debra’s, 251.343.7463. Earrings, $80; The Holiday, 251.432.4911.

support each other with carpool pickups, general mom errands, and more. I wish every female entrepreneur had this,” Devon affirms. “As we grow this business, we’ll continue to push out the stereotypes and be role models for women looking to join the tech industry.” Originally from La Porte, Texas, Devon moved to Daphne in 2003 and graduated from the University of Mobile with a degree in leadership and cultural studies. Now married to husband Steven Harris, the couple share a son, Brian (4), whom they adopted last year. “He is the light of our lives,” Devon beams, adding Brian loves soccer, karate, swimming, and playing with the family’s two Great Danes: Rufus and Charley. “As a busy mom and business owner there doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day,” Devon jokes. “It can seem impossible to do it all, so it’s important to know my limits and realize when I need to ask for help — it takes a village! My husband and son keep me going and it’s an amazing feeling knowing we’re growing this business with my family, for my family, and for our staff’s families.” Clearly community-minded, Devon adds that giving back is incredibly important. “We’re able to give back, better the lives of people around us, and always try to make a positive impact,” she shares, noting OberaConnect will serve as the Title Sponsor for the first annual BCH Classic golf tournament and fundraiser November 5th. “All proceeds go to the Children’s Aid Society, and there’s also a suitcase donation to support Fostering Together Gulf Coast by accepting new or slightly used suitcases for children in foster care,” Devon details. In her downtime, Devon loves a meal out at Sunset Pointe and Southwood Kitchen, but at the end of most days, she looks forward to a tech and device-free dinner with her family at home. Happily making it all work, she wants women to know the technology field is wonderful and full of opportunity. “Don’t be intimidated by technology,” she insists. “This industry is constantly growing and changing, and there’s a place for us all.”

Devon Top Photo: Top, $348; CK Collection, 251.990.9001. Jacket, $89; Dillard’s, 251.471.1551. Bottom Photo: Top, $69; Dillard’s, 251.471.1551. Earrings, $155; CK Collection, 251.990.9001. Madison: Top, $335; Debra’s, 251.343.7463. Earrings, $80; The Holiday, 251.432.4911.


Angie McCool-Pearson, MD & Christy James Guepet, MD

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28 ACCESS Magazine / October 2021

M E N TA L H E A LT H: the new

FRONTIER Finding the term “mental health” so vague that it almost renders itself useless, we know it’s vital that it becomes viewed just as important as our physical health. For many, just combining the words “mental” and “health” adds up to a whole of discomfort, confusion, and avoidance (and let’s be honest, this may be a tad truer in the South where impression management is unintentionally handed down through the generations). While we all know this is a hot topic backed by eye-popping statistics both globally and nationally, we’re curious about the situation locally as, like you, we’re living it, too. From increased suicides, continued bullying, record rates of depression and anxiety, and the impact of social media to more subtle issues like the pursuit of perfection and the dodging of those hard-to-accept truths, the Bay area has not gone unscathed. This is scary stuff. As one tiny team tackling a big topic, we’re aware we can only scratch the surface, yet being so engrossed in this community, we felt we had to try. Once we dug in, we realized that not only is there an incredible need for meaningful information and discussion, but that (thankfully) resources and empathetic caregivers abound. So, even if for a moment, let’s pull our proverbial heads out of the sand and open ourselves up to what’s quietly happening all around us. With the utmost confidence, we can easily say you are so not alone.

By Amber Wielkens Photos Stevye Photography, Makeup Courtney Matthews Makeup Artistry, Hair Jason Chambers, HeadDress Salon, 251.689.7427 Stylist Jennifer Irizarry Shot on Location at The Lodge at Gumbo South,

30 ACCESS Magazine / October 2021

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Counselor’s Insight Meet Leigh Hurley, one of the Bay’s strongest advocates for children and parents alike. Whether you like straight talk or not, she’s in the center of our silent struggles and has a lot of good food for thought. In the name of moving us forward, she shares her take, Southern views, and the countless conditions that fall under the crowded umbrella that is mental health.


ith a Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy and Counseling and as a licensed professional counselor with wide-ranging mental health experience including foster care, hospice work, private practice, court advocacy, and counseling and psych services at Tulane University, Leigh Hurley’s got the mental health chops to command attention and authority. When it comes to the local conversation, Leigh makes no judgment — she’s Southern, too — yet she’s witnessed some unique consistencies, saying, “Southern traditions and close communities offer so much healing and support, but when tradition and loyalty to names, families, and institutions are held in higher esteem than what’s healthiest for individuals, they become an integral part of hurting instead of helping.”

Ears perk up? Ours did! “Sometimes healing and protecting one’s mental health or that of a child or loved one requires making changes that ruffle the status quo,” she says. “Setting boundaries, speaking truths, holding abusers accountable, disclosing family secrets, and saying no is especially challenging in small towns.” Asked how this became normalized, Leigh says, “Culturally, we’re not trained in self-care and advocating for our own mental health. The priority placed on manners, beauty, and tradition is rich in relationship and value, but what about when our experiences and what’s validated as acceptable are limited? You suffer, your children suffer, and generations suffer. For example, not addressing unhealthy family patterns, toxic family members, or harboring family secrets only perpetuates suffering, as does being limited to certain friend groups, schools, churches, clothes, sports, and hobbies because of strict unspoken rules of what’s acceptable. While it may work for some, it’s stifling and damaging to others, especially children given no choices.” In terms of acknowledgement or getting help, it seems our community has polarized perceptions. “On one hand, it’s okay to struggle if it’s discussed in a spiritual context, like offering a prayer request or taking a marital or family problem to a pastor. On the other hand, pursuing professional help can seem ‘next level’ and implies there must be serious problems, which often fuels hurtful gossip. The reality is that there’s no problem too big or small precluding people benefiting from professional help — even in addition to spiritual guidance. It shouldn’t cause alarm; crisis shouldn’t be the norm for seeking help. I long for people to understand that everyone who walks through our door — hard-working moms, dads, children, teenagers, teachers, doctors, lawyers, businesspeople — is someone living their life who just wants help with their

struggles. As in everything, some are struggling more than others. Just like our physical health fares better when we maintain it, the same is true for our mental health,” Leigh concludes. Defining self-care, Leigh explains, “True self-care centers around relationships and time commitments. Whom you trust, how you center your conversations, and how you treat people and allow others to treat you is the meat of selfcare. It’s stepping out of that going-through-the-motions mode to pause, set goals, reflect, and consider a slower and more intentional way of life. It begins with ‘check in’ moments where we ask ourselves questions about who and what brings us joy/discourages us, what we believe in, what we are grateful for, how we make changes to get what we want in life, and who challenges us to be better, more authentic versions of ourselves. Giving yourself grace is also important. I recently read, ‘It takes time to learn to be attracted to what’s good for us.’ Knowing we’re forever evolving as people and giving yourself permission to grow and change at every stage of life is central to self-care.” A true advocate, Leigh and her husband Andrew founded Hurley Counseling & Associates in Mobile and Fairhope, where they have an A-list team. “Our practice includes a PhD psychologist and specialists for eating disorders, trauma, family and marriage therapy, as well as clinicians specifically trained to work with children of all ages,” Leigh details. “To ensure the best results, our clinicians utilize evidence-based measures to treat patients in each area, with specific attention to anxiety, depression, and other diagnoses such as ADHD and substance abuse. We look forward to bringing in a psychiatric nurse practitioner in the near future to prescribe and manage medications, when necessary,” she reports. We’re intrigued by the evidence talk, so Leigh clarifies, “Many people have reasonable misunderstandings of therapy because of past experiences or how culture has misinformed them. Evidenced-based therapy (EBT) approaches are far more specialized than listening and advising. While our clinicians are skilled listeners, the scope of how clients are understood, engaged, and helped is rooted in approaches backed by scientific evidence. For example, neurofeedback is an incredible therapy ‘accelerator,’ and possibly the most exciting advancement I’ve witnessed. The speed at which people are overcoming anxiety, depression, eating disorders, irritability, and symptoms of ADHD is unmatched by anything I’ve seen in 15 years. Watching patients experience faster relief is the stuff we dream about!” Filled with misconceptions, we all know people resistant to medication as well. “Many fear meds due to mismanaged experiences or they don’t understand how they work,” Leigh explains. “Some think it’s a scapegoat for a character flaw.

Nothing could be further from the truth. After being depressed or anxious for a while, the brain simply can’t produce the necessary chemicals to function at a healthy baseline. No matter how hard they try, their brain simply won’t give them what they need. This is when medication can greatly alter someone’s quality of life. I use the analogy of needing glasses. If the exam letters are fuzzy, you can’t will yourself to see them clearly. Sometimes, your brain needs eyeglasses,” Leigh summarizes. In terms of the overall mental health conversation, Leigh feels it’s a reflection of the success our culture has had in normalizing it, saying, “Anxiety, depression, and substance abuse rates have skyrocketed the past two years due to quarantines, the loss of loved ones, and general Covid-19 stress. Many turned to social media and the internet to pass time or feel connected and unfortunately became lonelier, more depressed, and more anxious. With their quality of life and relationships suffering, they’re asking for help.” While this is a lot of information, Leigh simplifies the topic. “Our brain is an organ like our heart and lungs, but it controls everything,” she states. “Paired with the fact that most things that happen to us are beyond our control (yet heavily impact our brain and development), mental health care is about understanding oneself, changing patterns, and achieving the highest quality of life. Healing is very possible and no one should feel shame for struggling. The healthiest people I know are the ones who have taken care of their mental health. I’ve never met a person that couldn’t benefit from it, myself included.”


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Leigh’s Mental Health Parenting GUIDE + TIPS This spirited insider breaks down some of the Bay’s most pressing parenting topics and serves them with a smile and a strong cup of wake-up-and-engage how to’s.

BRAIN DEVELOPMENT IN CHILDREN & TEENS Understanding a child’s developmental stage at each age can ease the anxiety of parenting. For example, infants’ brains aren’t complex enough to manipulate, but without that understanding, it can feel like your infant is “too needy.” The “terrible twos and threes” are a result of the brain developing by exploring the concept of autonomy. Those tantrums toddlers have aren’t because your child is defiant or you’re a bad parent; it’s simply part of how they learn boundaries, safety, sharing, and disappointment. In the teen years, it’s crucial parents comprehend that the frontal lobe of the human brain isn’t fully developed until about 25 years old. An underdeveloped frontal lobe (or one damaged by addiction to substances, pornography, or social media) can cause a teen to struggle with impulse control and often exhaust their parents. This is one reason teenagers struggle to be consistent with their convictions, interests, and friendships. It’s also why teenagers speed, make poor decisions “in the moment,” and communicate in ways that are definitively bad for themselves and others.

PARENTING: KNOW YOURSELF, KNOW YOUR CHILD The best gift we can give our children is twofold. First, working through our own wounds and issues (we all have them) so we don’t project them onto our kids or parent from a place of weakness is the most precious gift. Self-awareness, not perfection, and knowing and taking responsibility for our struggles is priceless. Second, being open to honest feedback from trusted teachers and friends about how your child is experienced is also a gift. I encourage every parent to ask their child’s teacher, “Who is my child at school? Are they shy, mean, loud, kind, assertive, passive? Is my child the bully?” Our children, like us, are imperfect and will struggle; accepting honest feedback is crucial to shaping your parenting approach.

SOCIAL MEDIA: HARD FACTS The digital leash — my term to describe our digital culture — has most adults (and now children) tethered to their phones and computers. Like a dog on a leash, we’re guided, led, pulled, and controlled; it’s very difficult to escape. Remember, parenting is hard. Finding like-minded parents is incredibly helpful, but not always possible. Try enlisting friends and even your school to create a plan for timed breaks. Educate yourself on the damage the internet and social media are causing. We’re big advocates of watching “The Social Dilemma” with your child to open the 34 ACCESS Magazine / October 2021

communication lines around responsible and safe use. The Netflix movie (available on YouTube) expertly explains the dangerous impact of social networking, which Big Tech uses to manipulate user addiction. Knowing the average teen is online a minimum of nine hours a day means parents simply can’t compete with its influence. The internet does and will shape your child’s self-worth, relationships, and moral compass. And not for the better. For every social media user, there’s a direct relationship between frequency and declines in mental health. The average age a child sees pornography is 8 years old. More chilling data reveals teen rates of anxiety, depression, and suicide have tripled with its introduction, and the stats on eating disorders and porn addiction are worse. Harrowing statistics don’t lie. The damage is in every home. If it sounds dramatic, experts agree (and research shows) adults and children are addicted. This is why parenting the use of phones and social media often feels (but isn’t) impossible. If you check social media or email while driving, you’ve also reached addiction status. It’s challenging for an actively struggling addict to have credibility in giving guidance or advice to another addict.

PARENTS, CHILDREN, & PHONES We can do better, and I’m a cheerleader for parents wanting help. First, address your own issues. The cultural pressure to get your child a phone and allow social media is fierce, so navigate it from the start. You’ll hear lots of “I’m the only kid without one,” but they’ll survive. I can guarantee worse battles if you allow it before they’re ready. Once in eighth grade, at the earliest, a phone with significant restrictions can safely be introduced for some children. First consider the levels of trust and communication between you, the child’s comfort level in asking for help, and how well the child responds to restrictions and electronic boundaries. Remember, a screen will never give your child what human interaction, play, and nature can. Young children don’t need endless video games or screen pacifiers at restaurants; they need to learn how to “be bored,” wait patiently, order a meal, make eye contact, and absorb the world around them. The less screen time your child has, the more they will thrive in this world. If your child is already overusing or addicted, simply take it away and reset. If they need to communicate with you, consider an internet-and app-free phone like GABB wireless or your cellular provider can help you shut down the internet feature on the phone. For teens who claim friends only communicate through messaging, there are likely other concerns that need addressing. Again, start by

modeling your own healthy relationship and engage your child through eye contact, playing with them, and have electronics-free family time. Be curious — ask what it’s like growing up in this social media world. Ask them how they’re holding up.

NO MORE SHAME If your child has Snapchat, TikTok, or Instagram, there is a 100 percent chance they’ll be exposed to pornography and solicited for nudes by friends and strangers. Research which apps are ageappropriate and which are simply destructive at all ages. Understanding the risks and dangers of social media and porn addiction and removing the shame is vital. Often our own discomfort in talking about sex makes this hard, but normalizing the struggle through open conversation will make it easier for them to ask for help if the future. Our children are not perverted because they’re curious. Their curiosity about sex is not the problem. The pornography industry intentionally targets children and teens with full knowledge these images are addictive to the human brain; it’s not the child’s fault, but it ruins lives. We must face what’s being thrown at our children and do better at educating and empowering them to fight for their own health. I recommend making a doable and shameless action plan for when they see pornography, are solicited, or feel vulnerable. As parents, we must give our kids the tools to confidently engage in the world without our oversight.

BIRDS & BEES Conversations about genitalia, safety, and sex are different conversations needed at each developmental stage. Many parents enter these conversations with their own sexual history and shame, but kids don’t perceive their bodies as yucky or shameful unless someone has made it so for them. Our bodies are amazing and it’s crucial children understand their private parts aren’t shameful; they’re sacred, private, and to be protected. Avoid being dramatic, take a deep breath, and anchor yourself with some helpful books that can guide you and your child. Remember, if you don’t teach them, the internet or another kid will! If paralyzed by the subject, ask for help from a professional so you can empower yourself to best parent your child’s view of their body and sexuality.

BULLYING One of the unintended consequences of the antibullying movement is that children are desensitized to what it truly means. Children and parents alike must understand there’s a healthy degree of conflict



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and banter between children at various ages that’s normal. For example, kids will get hurt feelings, face social disappointments, and feel left out on occasion. But no one should feel pressure to be friends with everyone and it’s not our children’s job to be playground therapists. It’s healthy for children to attach to a handful of peers and have a preference about whom they want to spend time with. It’s not bullying to not invite everyone to a birthday party or sleepover. Helping our children develop resilience and to locate peers they truly enjoy versus the pursuit of fitting in with those who don’t include them is challenging but necessary for their selfesteem and happiness. Otherwise, they fall prey to a victim mentality, where challenges are interpreted through a lens of chronic rejection. In contrast, parents and children alike must understand that any deliberate act to be unkind or cruel is, in fact, bullying. Name calling, antagonizing, and poking fun online or in person is definitively cruel and should be met with firm consequences. Bullying is emotional abuse and it damages the psyche of the child experiencing it. Emotionally desensitized by screen overuse, children are now more negligent with their words and actions and many have lost the capacity for empathy or to intuitively recognize how their words and behaviors affect others.

ANXIETY DISORDER While we all feel anxious sometimes, an anxiety disorder is a diagnosis where the patient has pervasive symptoms which interfere with their ability to function and relate to others. It’s easily the most common mental health issue we observe and treat. Symptoms vary, but include racing and ruminating thoughts, inability to concentrate, excessive need to control one’s environment and others, persistent worry, avoidance of social gatherings, racing heart, sweaty palms, stomachaches, and nervous habits such as nail biting or picking. It can’t be “turned off” and if symptoms don’t ease with self-talk, prayer, exercise, and other disciplined efforts, professional help is necessary; it’ very treatable with evidencebased treatment.

DEPRESSION Like anxiety, depression is far more complex than having a bad day or a negative outlook. It’s a serious medical condition that interferes with a person’s ability to function. A depressed brain lacks the necessary chemicals to motivate oneself. One can’t will themselves out of it any more than a blind person can will their eyes to see. Symptoms include anxiety, apathy, general discontent, guilt, hopelessness, and mood swings. Also, many are easily agitated, have fluctuating sleep and eating patterns, and effectively disguise their symptoms to loved ones and peers. Anxiety and depression aren’t one-size-fits-all, but each person who suffers deserves relief. Professional help is crucial, as many recover through effective treatments.

PTSD & TRAUMA We most commonly think of combat soldiers when we hear PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), but trauma affects people from all walks of life. Longterm stress, humiliation, hopelessness, or threats to safety in toxic relationships, jobs, and family dynamics are contributing factors. For some, 36 ACCESS Magazine / October 2021

an actual or perceived life-threatening event (or witnessing one) can evoke a trauma response in one’s mind and body. Common symptoms include intrusive thoughts of distressing memories and images, sleep disturbance, mood swings, seemingly random anxiety and panic, fatigue, and nightmares. Rest, dedicated time to process one’s experience, forcing an enjoyable activity, and disengaging from social media are primary ways to offset risks of PTSD. Seeking professional help from a therapist or neurofeedback (or both) is incredibly useful and proven to offset risks and even heal symptoms.

TEEN SUICIDE I stand by my assertion that social media is primarily responsible for the alarming rise in teen suicide. Kids’ personalities and ability to develop meaningful relationships have been hijacked. They’re lonely and seeking solace by looking at pornography and other people’s filtered lives and bodies. They can talk and share their naked bodies with friends and strangers online, but they don’t know how to converse over a meal while making eye contact with a human being. Humans can’t thrive without emotional and physical connection with other humans. Our kids are starved for true peer and parent connections. Again, as parents are more disconnected, scrolling instead of engaging as our teens are coached into low self-esteem by the “I’ll never be good enough” propaganda on the internet means it’s time to tune in. Yes, teen behaviors can be a mystery, but loss of interest in activities, inability to name things they enjoy, changes in appetite, isolating, a shift in grades, and any mention of suicide or suicidal thoughts are signs that your child needs professional help immediately. Skip the shame and have a mental health clinician assess your child’s status and guide you to the proper care.

PARTING ADVICE There’s no one-size-fits-all parenting guide to ensure our kids will grow up to be happy and productive. My No. 1 tip is to look at yourself and consider which issues are getting in the way of your perspective on your children and what’s best for them. Caring for yourself and addressing your own issues is the purest and most powerful gift we can give our children.

Hurley Counseling & Associates, LLC .

1327 Springhill Avenue Mobile, AL 22873 U.S. Highway 98 Fairhope, AL 251.222.8880

Leigh’s At-Home Resource Recommendations Parenting Wisdom “The Whole-Brain Child” by Daniel Siegal, MD, is about understanding developmental stages and imparts wisdom on how to parent them at each stage. Private Parts & Sex Talks offers resources for each developmental stage from ages 3 to 18. “Be prepared, not scared” is their motto! Pornography Talks & Protection “How to Talk to Your Kids About Pornography” is a book available from I promise it’s not scary! is a well of simple and effective information for parents and children. Their book “Good Pictures, Bad Pictures” is a must-have. is an excellent digital-age resource for all parents and teens. Empowerment for Parents About Sex Abuse Prevention is dedicated to educating parents on how to protect children. Digital Safety & Citizenship focuses on helping adults become informed to keep their kids safe online and off. The Extent & Prevention of Online Sex Trafficking is committed to helping parents keep children safe. The Prevalence of Child Predators in Families & Your Community (Church, School, etc.) “Protecting the Gift: Keeping Children and Teenagers Safe (And Parents Sane)” should be required reading for every parent. Small, tightknit communities are most at risk for knowingly and unknowingly incubating and protecting predators.














38 ACCESS Magazine / October 2021

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What if there was a way to retrain your brain to feel good again? Magnolia Mind Mapping’s co-owner Bethany Brenes, MPA, LPTA is here for you. Offering neurofeedback to help patients alleviate the symptoms of ADHD, depression, anxiety, and much more, she explains the process (and benefits) of this non-invasive treatment.

ethany Brenes is passionate on the subject of mental health, saying, “When matters of the mind and mental proficiency are being addressed, I wish it were a common practice to identify the root of the issue rather than merely treat the symptoms. So much time is taken addressing all the symptoms stemming from the root cause. Knowing why you feel, react, and function the way you do can be affirming, but being able to directly address those problematic areas with neurofeedback? That’s progress.” Now we’re interested. How does neurofeedback work? According to Bethany, “The first step is the qEEG (Quantitative Electroencephalogram), or ‘brain map.’ The map is a non-invasive procedure which records the electrical brain wave activity throughout the brain. It allows us to see where there may be overactivity, underactivity, or an imbalance of specific brain waves. By locating the imbalance, we’re able to identify the functions we expect and are trained to see affected,” she explains. Take delta waves, for instance. They are slow and abundantly present during deep sleep. The frontal lobe of the brain is responsible for attention, decision making, and cognitive efficiency. If an excessive amount of delta waves is found in the frontal lobe, Bethany is likely to see symptoms of brain fog, difficulty focusing, and trouble with decision making. Alternatively, if there is an underactivity of beta (fast) waves, she’s likely to see decreased motivation, lack of interest, and trouble completing tasks. After the qEEG, a report of findings is created for the client that correlates their presenting symptoms and the brain map data. “Patients receive so much validation through understanding their brain is making them feel a certain way or identifying the culprit behind cognitive struggles,” Bethany says. “At the end of the report, we provide a protocol designed to stabilize areas of the brain that are stressed during the mapping. Neurofeedback sessions are the ‘training’ which guides the brain into a restorative balance by targeting the specific areas responsible for the symptoms. The typical frequency is twice a week for a minimum of 20 visits.” As for how the sessions are conducted, the client watches a screen while two sensors read the activity at the brain location being trained. The sensors allow

the computer to monitor the natural fluctuation of brain waves, and when the waves go above or below the desired range, the display will dim and the sound will decrease. The client is still able to see and hear the display, but the brain is learning to adjust the waves to receive the reward of the display being brighter. With repetition, the brain creates new pathways and continues to balance levels even after the session is over. The best part? “Upon completion, these new pathways become permanent and leave the brain with a redistribution of energy and greater cognitive efficiency,” declares Bethany. Although she sees a wide range of symptoms improve, the most common are anxiety, depression, attention, and sleep issues. However, the story most touching to Bethany was a young man with Down syndrome. “He came to us on the verge of psychosis, struggling to answer direct questions or attend to a task for more than a few minutes,” Bethany details. “After starting neurofeedback, his mother told me he was becoming angry and overwhelmed, behaviors he’d never exhibited before. Due to Down syndrome, he had never identified and processed emotions before, and this was the first time these primitive feelings were able to emerge. After neurofeedback, he was able to keep up with an inquisitive conversation, perform longer tasks with sustained attention, and most importantly, he attended a long-awaited virtual interview for college,” she shares. What a testimony! Bethany feels she is where she’s meant to be. In 2018, she left a successful career as a clinical director at Industrial Wellness Rehab because she felt called to stay home with her young children. “Leaving that work family was hard, but I followed the voice of the Lord. My husband was my biggest support during that transition,” she claims. For the next year, she used her downtime to create Establish Wellness, a company providing education for a healthy path toward change. “In early 2019, Andrew and Leigh Hurley approached me with the idea of integrating our companies to implement the first neurofeedback practice in Mobile,” she shares. “We partnered with colleagues in Colorado (who had been running neurofeedback successfully for over a decade) to launch Magnolia Mind Mapping. Today, I understand if I hadn’t followed that guiding voice, I wouldn’t have had the extra time with my children and I wouldn’t have been available for this unimaginable opportunity to help others.”

Bethany Brenes, MPA, LPTA Neurotherapist, Clinical Director, & Co-Owner


Magnolia Mind Mapping 1327 Springhill Avenue Mobile, AL 251.272.9606

40 ACCESS Magazine / October 2021


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42 ACCESS Magazine / October 2021

E AT I N G D I S O R D E R S :

from Patient to Practitioner Suzanne Glass, M.A., ALC, knows looks can be deceiving. Anyone seeking help for body dysmorphia and eating disorders (ED) might think she couldn’t possibly understand. They’d be wrong. Having struggled with these life-changing illnesses, she opens up about her own journey, as she is now highly qualified and dedicated to helping others because she understands exactly how they feel.

licensed counselor specializing in treating patients with eating disorders, Suzanne Glass can more than sympathize. “My personal struggle with food and eating disorders began in my early teens, and it was a difficult journey lasting almost 13 years,” she begins. “As a kid, I always stood out, which I hated. I was taller than all the boys, red-headed, pale and freckled, and shaped like a Coca-Cola can, not a bottle.” Desperately wanting to fit in and look like the other girls in her school, she found herself constantly comparing and always feeling less than. “I was a top student, an accomplished pianist, an avid equestrian, and had plenty of friends — by all outward appearances, I lived a happy, well-adjusted life,” she says. But inwardly, she was miserable in her own skin and embarked on a trail of selfabuse. She says, “I vividly remember the first time I purged and the complicated feelings I had, thinking, ‘This is so easy; I can eat what I want and not have to worry about gaining weight.’ As a young teenage girl, I couldn’t have predicted how quickly it would escalate and take total control of my life, the destruction it would cause in my personal relationships, or the havoc it would wreak on my body and mind.” What began as purging quickly evolved into extreme caloric restriction, bulimia, excessive exercising, calorie counting, and abusing diet pills. “In college, I began seeing a therapist and nutritionist as an outpatient. Unlike other therapists, she, too, had suffered from an ED and was passionate about utilizing her past to help others,” Suzanne shares. Feeling heard and understood for the first time, she felt hope she could overcome her own ED, yet she wasn’t ready to part with the behaviors and beliefs holding her captive. After a short stint in recovery, she relapsed after graduating. Now completely controlled by her illness, Suzanne determined her self-worth by numbers on the scale and the size she wore. Despite many attempts by concerned family and friends trying to help, her relationship with her disorder was what she clung to most and she protected it at all costs. Again, Suzanne would promise them and herself she could stop, which would just force her to hide the relationship and protect it even more. “Even though the number on the scale rewarded me with praise, my body was beginning to feel the effects of starvation and self-abuse,” Suzanne admits. “I was continually exhausted but couldn’t sleep; I was irritable and moody; I had difficulty

concentrating and staying on task, often feeling like I was walking around in a fog; my skin was constantly dry; and I avoided dental appointments at all costs, fearing reports of more cavities,” she explains. Exercise made her feel like she might pass out at any minute. “My body was starving and letting me know it had had enough,” she shares. “Still, I continued to push myself, finally finding myself able to wear the size 0 jeans I’d always wanted to fit into.” That moment was a pivotal point in her eating disorder. She’d finally reached her goal, but fear and anxiety quickly replaced her happiness — how would she ever be able to maintain this? She continues, “I had abused my body to get to this point. I was miserable, depressed, ashamed, and starving. My ED controlled every aspect of my life: relationships with friends and family, restaurants I could go to, how many accounts I could see at work, the hours I’d spend getting dressed every day (since I was never happy or content with what I saw in the mirror), and my self-worth.” It was shortly after meeting her husband that she reached her lowest point. Changing jobs, leaving her friends and life in Florida to move to Alabama, and becoming a new wife and stepmom threw her into a tailspin. “The pressure I felt to be perfect, to fit in, and to navigate my new life on the Eastern Shore was unbearable,” Suzanne says. “My body was completely breaking down, my personal relationships were deteriorating, and my family and loved ones were afraid they would lose me forever. I had finally hit bottom.” Realizing what she’d allowed her ED to take from her and all the misery it had caused her and others, she became resentful and angry. More importantly, she became determined, claiming, “My ED had taken so much joy from my life and I realized I was suffering — no longer in control of the relationship.” Suzanne used that anger and determination when she entered an inpatient eating disorder clinic. She was terrified, but vowed she would use this opportunity to escape the torment of her ED. “While in treatment, I met many amazing women, both clients and clinicians, all of whom had suffered from EDs during their lifetime. Sessions were intense and emotionally and physically challenging, but the hope and support these women encouraged within their walls and the support of my family and loved ones was what I needed to face the monster head-on,” she shares. After 16 weeks spent challenging her thoughts and behaviors and learning (for the first time) how to trust her own body and have a positive relationship with food, she was released into the outpatient care of a therapist and nutritionist. “My recovery was not perfect, and even today I find the same critical thoughts creep





44 ACCESS Magazine / October 2021

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eating. Suzanne shares, “It’s not uncommon for a loved one to deny an ED when confronted, but parents and loved ones should pay attention to how these behaviors are impacting that person’s life. Are they having trouble concentrating, poor performance at school, withdrawing from friends, or distancing themselves from family members? The nature of EDs is extreme secrecy and protection for the sufferer. Loved ones and family shouldn’t ignore the signs.” Research shows anywhere between 60 to 95 percent of eating disorder patients have symptoms of other psychiatric diagnoses. Some of the more common include anxiety and depression, OCD, social anxiety disorders, PTSD, sexual dysfunction, self-harming, and suicide. Suicide is far higher in ED sufferers than in the general population (anorexics are 31 times more likely to die by suicide, while bulimics are 7.5 times higher). “Understanding the relationship the ED has with any comorbid diagnosis is extremely important in treatment, and the treatment plan should always address the entirety of the patient’s mental health needs,” asserts Suzanne. Sharing this incredibly intimate story isn’t easy for Suzanne, but she wants people to understand how eating disorders can ruin every facet of a person’s life. Despite it all, though, there is hope. “At the lowest point of my ED, I felt complete hopelessness,” she shares. “My entire identity and future were in a relationship with a monster that was consuming me each day,” The therapists and staff she encountered while in treatment inspired her to pay it forward. “My hope is to be that source to others in my community, not only through my personal battles, but also with the education and appropriate training to help in the greatest way possible.”

Collins Counseling & Associates, P.C. 1340 Sledge Drive Mobile, AL

up on me from time to time. However, I’m not the same woman I was during my ED,” she declares. “I’m a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend, and a therapist. My self-value and worth are no longer tied to a number on a scale. I’ve learned to appreciate and love my body for the life it offers me each day.” Finally, like the many women and gifted therapists she encountered on her journey, her suffering inspired her to want to help others held captive by eating disorders. “There is hope and a new life in recovery, and it’s possible for each of us when we are ready to confront it,” she adds. Now a licensed counselor at Collins Counseling & Associates, P.C., Suzanne’s passion for helping others is evident. “I specialize in the areas of women’s issues, eating disorders, body image, self-esteem, anxiety, and depression,” she details, adding that she works with individuals, couples, and families to address other

relationship issues like grief, conflict resolution, and divorce. Maybe there’s someone you’re worried might have an ED. Suzanne explains it’s difficult to detect them on the surface. Our culture promotes excessive exercise, fad diets, and avoidance of certain food groups, so what’s seen as normal behavior can mask a deadly eating disorder. Then there are the stereotypes. “We’ve come to believe EDs only happen to the affluent and thin, but eating disorders are found in all ages, ethnicities, genders, sizes, and socioeconomic statuses,” Suzanne details. “This means the emaciated client and the client considered overweight can share the same criteria for certain EDs.” Things to be on the lookout for are poor body image, preoccupation with weight, frequent dieting, excessive exercising, frequent trips to the bathroom after meals, purging, binging, and avoidance of

22765 U.S. Hwy. 98 Fairhope, AL 301 Main Street Atmore, AL 251.473.3410


THE MIND-BODY CONNECTION Merging approaches for mental and physical health under one roof is proving to be a brilliant approach, and at the local forefront of this new frontier is Sydney Wasdin, M.Ed., ALC, NCC, RYT. With a lot of intimidating initials following her name, Sydney is anything but. Both bubbly and down to earth, she’s definitely onto something. Luckily, our supremely curious and forward-thinking Southern influencer, Charlotte Kilborn Carey, found her. Here, enjoy their fascinating exchange. By Charlotte Kilborn Carey Photos Stevye Photography,

Top, $340; The Mix, 251.217.2916. Skirt, $100; The Holiday, 251.432.4911.

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46 ACCESS Magazine / October 2021

Top Photo: Top, $228, Pants, $425, Earrings, $58; Debra’s, 251.343.7463. Bottom Photo: Jeans, $278; Debra’s, 251.343.7463. Sweater, $368, Earrings, $75; The Holiday, 251.432.4911. Heels, $155; Rise, 251.341.7096.

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athering in person during this semipost pandemic period, I noticed my normally fearless Steel Magnolias had begun to approach their once cup-runneth-over lifestyles with an enormous amount of trepidation. Clinging ever so tightly, this pandemic-driven anxiety is strangling their usual joie de vivre.

My knee-jerk reaction to “fix” this led me to True Yoga and Therapy, the brainchild of local woman-on-the-rise Sydney Wasdin. Intrigued by the whole-body wellness concept, I dove into her website and it clicked. As a long-time believer in the mind-body connection, Sydney’s strategy spoke to me and seemed perfect for not only my tribe, but for the global mental health crisis, too. I also appreciate her options: therapy by itself, yoga classes, or a combination of both, which is referred to as “yoga therapy.” Wanting to know more and share her twopronged wellness approach with our community, I scored an interview. Diving in, I asked about her “aha” moment when she realized mental and physical health are inextricably intertwined. “I took an elective class in yoga certification in undergraduate school and had the lightbulb moment as it overlapped with my psychology classes,” she recalls. “I realized how science-based yoga actually is and became interested in the neuropsychology that connects the mind and body.” So let’s break it down. Our minds and bodies are proven powerful allies. How we think affects how we feel and vice versa. For example, who can’t relate to getting a stomachache under stress? Or, who hasn’t witnessed a tough diagnosis taking an emotional toll on a loved one? It’s all connected. Anything but new-aged or “out there,” Sydney uses the combination of yoga and traditional talk therapy — a purposeful pairing and a resultdriven method. “Knowing the mind and body have a reciprocal relationship, it’s important both are engaged in any healing process — regardless of whether it’s physical or psychological,” she shares. “Best done in tandem, we offer professionallyled, customized journeys to true holistic health and happiness.” Perking up at the word “true,” I ask about the practice name. “It’s all about a person’s truth and their perspective,” she explains. “As therapists, we have to meet clients where they are, even if their truth is possibly distorted. There also has to be a degree of mutual authenticity between client and therapist in order to get to them where they need to be,” she details. Finding her beyond easy to talk to, Sydney adds, “I think it’s beneficial to not see your therapist as an emotionless robot. I’m very up front about the fact that I value authenticity. I want clients to know I’m a person, too, and I encourage questions and honesty. I also take the time to get to know my clients and what’s important to them,” Sydney shares.

And if you’ve assumed yoga isn’t for you, consider that 15 minutes a day can change your brain chemistry, boost your mood, delay the aging process, and increase your lifespan. On average, consistent yoga practice decreases anxiety levels by 40 percent, depression levels by approximately 50 percent, and helps 52 percent of people alleviate PTSD symptoms. Physically, it can alleviate back pain, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, strengthen the immune system, improve sexual satisfaction, and more. Apparently, the more than 37 million people in the U.S. practicing yoga are on to something. Looking for clarification, I inquire about yoga for calming versus fitness purposes. Responding at lightning speed, Sydney says, “Stillness is for the mind and movement is for the body. Restorative yoga combines more stillness with gentle movement while fitness-focused yoga employs more repetition and ‘hot’ movements.” Aha, I say, proud of my own moment. Furthering my interrogation, Sydney explains, “Breathing regulates everything in your body and

is an integral part in proper organ function. Slow, controlled breathing engages the parasympathetic nervous system and is important in regulating depression and anxiety. Conversely, other breathing techniques disengage the sympathetic nervous system and promote relaxation, clear thinking, and rationality.” Naturally, I ask how yoga therapy works, too. “The client and I discuss issues causing them mental anguish and physical tension,” she elaborates. “Interestingly, many clients haven’t made the connection that they’re related. Then we use yoga postures to explore and relieve those symptoms,” Sydney says. With a firm grasp on the benefits of yoga, Sydney talks therapy. “Having a non-biased professional assures effective help that friends and family aren’t always able to provide,” she says. “Through exploring and making sense of their thoughts and feelings, I teach specific coping skills and challenge them with honest feedback when needed. This, combined with active behavioral changes between sessions reduces symptoms and helps to improve their relationships with others and the world around them.” More than fascinating, her experiences include working within correctional settings as a research assistant in a male youth accountability-based sex offender program and screening for developmental delays in Head Start preschools. She even worked

within an independent school system in one of Atlanta’s affluent communities under neuro, clinical, and counseling psychologists and in an inpatient setting with adolescents and adults struggling with severe mental illness. Having been in some of the deepest mental health trenches, she confirms, “Everyone needs help, period. Big behavior changes are a red flag. People often normalize really troubling things ranging from the lack of sleep and toxic relationships to abuse and suicidal thoughts that include passive or sarcastic jokes about it, and even dying in general. People often glamorize codependence as ‘true love’ making excuses for themselves, or others, or they write off emotional and mental abuse as ‘normal.’ People think if you’re struggling or different, you’re abnormal or ‘crazy.’ This creates the perception of desired isolation which actually often exacerbates distress and symptoms. In reality, everyone struggles and everyone needs help from time to time. Therefore, by definition, this is normal. If ignored, the problems will persist, escalate, and then become bigger. Even if they seem to just go away, they’ll come back in some way or another,” she warns. With a Master’s in Education in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and originally from Bay Minette, Sydney is a National Board-Certified Counselor completing her Alabama licensing, a Yoga Alliance accredited and registered yoga teacher, and is currently working towards her 900-hour YogaTherapist Certification from the International Association of Yoga Therapists. “For continuing education, I focus on trauma, neuropsychology, holistic psychology, and issues within my client population,” she adds. Asking what led her into the field, she shares, “I was adopted and told about it at age 4. Fortunately, I was an insightful child and learned to deal with typically adult issues at a young age. I had the realization early that nothing is given and even 48 ACCESS Magazine / October 2021

began practicing gratitude before I knew what it meant. As I got older, I saw my friends struggling and researched tools to help as a friend and how to know when to get help from an adult. Finally, when I took a psychology class at Bayside Academy, I was inspired to choose it as a career!” Inquiring about the pandemic overall, Sydney explains, “The current situation has exacerbated depression and anxiety between both the practical, health-related fear and the social isolation. We’re wired for social connection, which naturally alleviates stress, and the absence of social interaction has worsened the feeling and perception of isolation. Social interaction actually releases oxytocin and is inherently soothing, so we’re missing out on getting to feel the safety and comfort that person-to-person and group interaction provides. We’ve found some compromise with having more virtual interaction but this doesn’t have quite the same effect for our bodies. Teens have been particularly affected, as they’re in a crucial time within their social and brain development.” Keeping it social, Sydney also offers sociallydistanced group therapy with parenting and family counseling, open yoga classes, and integrative and educational workshops with others. She enjoys providing services in and out of her practice and loves to help however needed. “I love to provide counseling and educational services that would benefit our community and help fill the needs we have, especially for teens,” she adds. As for life on the Bay, Sydney shares, “I really love this area. It’s so peaceful and scenic, and the water brings me such comfort. A purveyor of quality food and coffee, I like to frequent local places, get to know the staff, and make myself comfortable to work, read, or meet with friends and colleagues, too!” Concluding, Sydney wraps it up by sharing just how much joy helping others brings her. “I truly look forward to my client interactions and consider

it a privilege to be able to earn a living doing what I love,” she beams. “And just remember, everyone struggles, it’s okay to not be okay, and everyone needs help from time to time — and that’s okay, too!”

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M E N T A L H E A LT H :

MAKING HER POINTE PUBLIC + PRIVATE Curious about the area’s largest public and private mental health care arms, we caught up with Dr. Sandra Parker to learn how they’re vital to all of us, the scope of services we should know about (and be proud of), and more. Why? It adds up to a whole lot more than tax dollars and makes perfect sense. Plus, mental health issues don’t discriminate or care about one’s bank balance or family ties, so knowing what’s available locally can make the difference between life and death. Stacking our community with options, here’s what you need to know now. By Amber Wielkens Photos Stevye Photography, Makeup Courtney Matthews Makeup Artistry, Hair Jason Chambers, HeadDress Salon, 251.689.7427


eloved by all who know her, Dr. Sandra Parker fills some pretty big shoes. Driven by her love for this community and seemingly boundless energy, she’s been the Chief Medical Officer of AltaPointe Health for 25 years and is Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of South Alabama (USA) College of Medicine, as well as a board member for Mobile Ballet. A day in her life would exhaust most; this beyond-smart and engaged psychiatrist is a multitasker extraordinaire who hits the ground running every morning. “Describing my routine and responsibilities is complicated! My day usually starts with a call around 7 a.m. Serving as the attending psychiatrist at USA Health Children’s & Women’s Hospital, I spend time consulting with resident physicians about various mental health patients,” she says, adding, “I wear a lot of hats, which means attending a lot of meetings. Some are company related, others are with state or local community partners, but they’re all in regard to improving the quality and availability of behavioral healthcare, which is my priority. I also give a lot of talks as well as lectures to medical students or residents. To be honest, my schedule rarely goes as planned, but it’s always productive. At the end of the day, I may not have completed anything I’d planned, but I probably accomplished a half-dozen other things that suddenly became more pressing.” While mental health can seem too broad for a concise definition, Dr. Parker has one, “Mental health isn’t focused exclusively on controlling the symptoms of mental illness or reducing or eliminating mental illnesses. It includes actively promoting well-being in people. I wish more people knew the importance of developing positive psychosocial factors like resilience and optimism as adults and teaching them to their children. Also, we need each other — social engagement can and does help people feel better.” In regards to the national conversation, Dr. Parker shares, “There’s a growing national awareness that mental illness and substance abuse are real and must be addressed. It’s becoming increasingly understood by politicians, the media, as well as the general public that things like depression and addiction are valid diseases just like other physical diseases, and that they’re worthy of treatment. This

50 ACCESS Magazine / October 2021

is in the best interests of our society, both in terms of wellness and economics, because left untreated, it doesn’t just affect the individual — it affects their entire family. Think about parents’ ability to provide for their children and an individual’s ability to be a good citizen and productive member of society.” She further asserts, “If we can help someone feel better, chances are they’ll be a better caregiver, keep a job, afford rent, and become a productive member of society. The ripple effects are enormous. The more money we invest toward improving mental healthcare in this country, the bigger the profit will be to our overall economy.” Acknowledging the national conversation is cause for optimism, Dr. Parker also knows there’s more work to be done. “Prior to the 1950s in the U.S., medical care for people who suffered from psychiatric illness was grossly inadequate and underfunded. The mentally ill were placed in large, staterun institutions, where living conditions were dangerous and unhealthy. It was then that a push for deinstitutionalization and outpatient treatment of psychiatric patients began, based on the belief they would have a higher quality of life if treated in their communities rather than in large, isolated mental hospitals,” she states. In our own community, it wasn’t until 1957 that local authorities established Mobile County Community Mental Health, starting out as a five-member team, with a budget of $36,500 and operating from a house on Springhill Avenue. In 1963, Congress passed legislation providing federal funding for the development of community-based mental health services. Dr. Parker claims, “That shift towards community-based services culminated in the 2012 closure of Searcy State Hospital.” Fast-forward to today, and the 1957 mental healthcare team of five has grown into AltaPointe Health, with services provided by hundreds of clinical professionals. Operating in dozens of locations across seven counties with a $117 million budget, Dr. Parker knows there’s a need for more growth. “Mental healthcare has certainly come a long way in the past 70 years, but we’re nowhere near the end of our journey. Psychiatric healthcare is inaccessible to many people living in rural or impoverished areas. AltaPointe is expanding services to people who need them. We’ve been hugely successful utilizing telehealth to reach out to those who wouldn’t have access to our services otherwise,” she says. In addition, it’s through AltaPointe that every public school in Mobile County now has a therapist on staff. Many of us aren’t aware of the mental health services AltaPointe Health provides for our community, and Dr. Parker is eager to explain, “AltaPointe Health is an extensive healthcare system providing primary and behavioral healthcare. Each year, we provide more than one million services to 45,000 patients across Alabama,” she says. A national leader in behavioral

health for more than 60 years, AltaPointe expanded its service array in 2018 to include primary care, focusing on the whole health of the patient. Rounding out the continuum, AltaPointe operates two psychiatric hospitals serving children and adults (both the only ones in our area), one behavioral health crisis center, 20 outpatient behavioral healthcare clinics, and BayView Professional Associates, its private practice arm. Pressing on, she adds, “BayView is the private practice division of AltaPointe Health, serving patients in Mobile and Baldwin Counties experiencing depression, anxiety, substance use issues, and more.” “AltaPointe’s team of 28 physicians and 16 physician extenders renders the medical care services throughout the organization and serves as the administration and faculty for the University of South Alabama, College of Medicine-Department of Psychiatry,” she says, explaining the connection between AltaPointe and USA. Leading the charge, BayView aims to provide the most cuttingedge services around. A passion for Dr. Parker, she shares her excitement for treatments they’re pursuing — everything from therapy for dementia patients and the latest developments for long-term depression to new weight-loss drugs and even helping locals with alcohol consumption before it becomes a full-fledged addiction. Too many to list, we’re simply wowed. Dr. Parker and her team rise to the daily challenges of serving this community and are proud of their impeccable record and accomplishments, telling us, “Today, patients expect hospitals and health systems to provide high-quality care. What sets providers apart is the ability to offer a personalized patient experience. Each day, AltaPointe’s team strives to create and sustain a culture of quality and exceed patient expectations.” Regarding the pandemic locally, Dr. Parker shares, “Since the beginning of the pandemic, the rates of depression, substance abuse, alcohol abuse, and suicide have greatly increased among children, adolescents, and adults. The pandemic has been especially hard on children, who have struggled with isolation, education interruptions, and loss of loved ones. In fact, I remember one heartbreaking day at Children’s & Women’s; there were four different children whose mothers had died from Covid and they were all struggling emotionally from their loss.” Early in the pandemic, BayView’s clinical team recognized that fear of illness, economic stress, and the uncertainty of its duration had encouraged people to seek mental health support who never needed it before. “BayView’s team enhanced its best-practices model to better protect the health of its patients and staff. Telehealth, which allows patients to see a provider from anywhere at any time was expanded,” says Dr. Parker, noting new technologies such as Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS),

a noninvasive procedure using magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain to improve symptoms of depression, commonly used when other depression treatments have not been effective. BayView also offers Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). Dr. Parker notes, “EMDR is considered a best-practices therapy for trauma and has a high success rate with the bonus that it’s noninvasive.” With high praise for AltaPointe Health’s CEO Tuerk Schlesinger, Dr. Parker credits their partnership for much of their success, saying, “We’ve been able to build a team consisting of the region’s brightest minds in psychiatry, management, technology, and quality control. Key to our success, now and in the future, is our continued implementation of best practices while adopting new technologies and strategies to increase our focus on whole-person care. Just as our predecessors met challenges, we must continually face and conquer them for the mental and physical well-being of those living with mental health issues, intellectual disabilities, and substance use disorders. Past experiences have proven our resilience, and collectively we will get through this unprecedented time.” Finally, yet no less importantly, we talk about the needless shame stopping so many people from seeking help for themselves or loved ones. Dr. Parker is emphatic on this point, saying, “Virtually everyone has struggled with either mental health or substance abuse issues at one point or are close to someone who has. When people understand that mental illness is equivalent to other types of physical illness — depression and anxiety are no more shameful than heart disease and diabetes — they start to lose their negative or shameful views on asking for treatment.” Lucky for us, Dr. Parker and the teams at AltaPointe and Bayview stand ready to help.

AltaPointe Health 5750-A Southland Drive Mobile, AL 251.450.2211

52 ACCESS Magazine / October 2021

A B O U T FA C E :


CONTROVERSY Seeking solace for what ails us through cosmetic fixes is not a one-size-fits-all solution and may result in disappointment or worse. Local cosmetic surgeon, Dr. James Koehler of Eastern Shore Cosmetic Surgery cuts through the confusion of when it can work and when it can hurt. By Hayley Hill


hen it comes to feeling good, many turn to aesthetic and surgical options, as looking good can certainly benefit how we feel about ourselves. In a world that’s seemingly addicted to youth, global forecasts for anti-aging markets project reaching more than $421 billion by 2030. Considering a majority of these projections are related to cosmetic surgical procedures, we wanted to dive deeper, as it gets particularly interesting when mental health factors are thrown into the mix (paired with the recent findings regarding the effects of social media images on the brain).

work for them. Just because someone or something looks great on social media, that doesn’t mean it will produce the same results for you. Results are as individualized as the patients. As a surgeon, I have to ask questions like, ‘Will this treatment reposition a client’s muscles?’ or ‘Will it tighten their skin and muscles in the exact spot necessary?’ and more. Looking at before and after pics on Instagram can be misleading because our bodies vary and that can lead to different results.” Digging in, he adds, “While people are looking for treatments As it turns out, Dr. Koehler has a lot to say about that are inexpensive, effective, and this topic. For those that know him, you’d likely have no risk or downtime, some agree he’s a mega-talent and a knowledgeable nonsurgical aesthetic services thought leader. However, most may not realize are truly effective. However, that he takes the mental health of his patients very evaluating them is a big job. Just seriously, too. Why? “Cosmetic surgery is a serious because a new device or treatment decision that requires serious consideration,” he gets FDA approval doesn’t mean shares. “It’s essential that I evaluate the motivation there aren’t risks or that they’ll behind each patient's decisions. If a patient seems to work for everyone. Trust me, if that be seeking external solutions for an internal problem magic bullet existed we’d all know such as depression, low self-esteem, deep-rooted about it. While surgery carries insecurities, or even as a means to fix a relationship more risk, it offers better and more or maintain a job, I get concerned, because surgery permanent results, as each surgery can’t fix inside problems.” is customized for each Grabbing our attention, Dr. Koehler patient’s individualized adds, “Cosmetic surgery is an incredible “I attribute issues and needs. Costoption for those invested in their mental much of my wise, it’s often less and physical health who, despite their expensive in the long success to best efforts, can’t achieve their desired run as well. Many results. For example, a client committed being engaged clients come to us to fitness that can’t lose a tummy bulge in life-long post-trendy treatments they chose to do or lift their breasts after childbirth no elsewhere after being let down to have learning." matter what they do that wants surgery us do it the right way.” for themselves versus a client wanting Understanding cosmetic procedures to fix a relationship with breast implants is very can’t (and won’t) fix mental health issues, Dr. different. I have to manage expectations because a Koehler adds, “I attribute much of my success to patient may experience disappoint and worsening being engaged in life-long learning, which has not mental health issues post-surgery if they’re trying only benefited my patients and practice, but has to fix an internal issue with an external solution.” enabled me to educate other doctors from around the It’s clear that Dr. Koehler has likely heard and world. For more than 10 years, I’ve been chosen to seen it all. “Naturally, I believe in giving yourself an teach and lecture due to my level of experience and edge to look and feel better, but I can’t emphasize continuous education. While a bit graphic, it’s been enough how vital the doctor/patient relationship an honor to be a hand-picked faculty member to is,” he says. “With so many nonsurgical treatments teach a rare course in advanced face lift techniques and technologies continuously launching, patients in St. Louis where cadavers are used to allow some need a good doctor to navigate what will and won’t of the world’s best cosmetic surgeons hands-on 54 ACCESS Magazine / October 2021

training in the latest techniques. Obviously, this is a much better option to perfecting skills versus doing it on actual patients. However, few courses like this exist, and it’s typically waitlisted as cosmetic

surgery is still all about technique. There are so many patient nuances, and surgeons have to know how to treat those differences. At the end of the day, it comes down to practice and constantly evolving and learning,” Dr. Koehler concludes.


Eastern Shore Cosmetic Surgery 7541 Cipriano Court Fairhope, AL 251.929.8921

MOVEMBER: MEN’S HEALTH IN CRISIS New Orleans transplant Matt LeMond is well-known for bolstering the bustling downtown scene of the Port City with local favorites like POST Crafted Cocktails & Wine Bar, O’Daly’s Irish Pub, Cedar Street Social, the Insider ¥ a collective eatery, and Outsider Sports Lounge, but it’s what he does to support others around him that really puts him on the map. A key mover and shaker in the leading charity changing the face of men’s health, “Movember,” Matt and others like him know what works for men — and what doesn’t.


By Jessica Goolsby

en’s health is in crisis. Men are dying on average five years earlier than women, and for largely preventable reasons. A growing number of men — around 10.8M globally — are facing life with a prostate cancer diagnosis. Globally, testicular cancer is the most common cancer among young men. Across the world, one man dies by suicide every minute of every day, with males accounting for 75 percent of all suicides. But why? And how can we help? Movember is an international movement uniquely poised to address this crisis on a global scale, funding groundbreaking projects all over the world, engaging men where they are to understand what works best and accelerate change, and Matt LeMond stands among its ranks. “I initially got involved because my grandpa passed away from prostate cancer,” Matt shares, noting that despite being young, he remembers the slow toll it took on his grandfather’s life and his gradual decline until his passing. “Ironically, he passed in November,” Matt recalls, making his involvement in the Movember movement all the more meaningful. As time passed, so did many of Matt’s friends, friends of friends, and parents of friends, but for these, mental health problems and suicide were the culprit. “Having lost too many, it just felt obligatory to shift our efforts to mental health,” Matt says. “The goal has always been to impact someone’s life and Mo Sisters standing in the trenches since the so much that they believe they belong on this Earth movement’s inception, that goal seems more than and that they are loved, and in the process, I believe attainable. it’s helped keep me mentally strong, especially this Of his own involvement, Matt shares, “It originally past year.” started with a friend and swiftly grew into a large An annual event involving the group of friends, community growing of mustaches during members, staff, and others who “We’d love to have the month of November, the wanted to get involved.” From you join our events, Movember movement seeks to humble beginnings, today’s follow along, donate, raise awareness of men’s health involvement includes helping issues such as prostate cancer, to organize any of the local or even join our team testicular cancer, and men’s to help raise funds and chapter’s many events including suicide. Since 2003, Movember an annual golf tournament, drag awareness — it’s free has funded more than 1,250 brunch, Staches in Stilettos men’s health projects around the (where area Mo Bros team up and so rewarding!” world, challenging the status quo, with a drag queen to do a show), shaking up men’s health research a poker night, a taco competition, – Matt LeMond and transforming the way health a private group round table, and services reach and support men. A global endeavor, more, Matt details. “As a team, over the last 12 Movember’s long-range goal is to reduce the years we have raised over $300K in funds, have number of men dying prematurely by 25 percent by been ranked in the Top 5 in the country and Top the year 2030. And with more than 5M Mo Bros 15 in the world in funds raised, and had a team of

56 ACCESS Magazine / October 2021

Mo Bros and Mo Sisters reach up to 50 members,” he beams. As someone who preaches to talk, share, and connect, Matt knows firsthand that when depression hits, it’s paralyzing. “You don’t want to eat, move, anything,” he sighs. “As males, we are ‘supposed’ to be strong, providing, and independent. My own experiences with depression as it relates to mental health is something new for me to navigate through. I always believed I was invincible and could mentally get through anything that comes my way, but the past year has created some mental stress that has shown my vulnerability. I have had to learn how to get out of the holes my thoughts sometimes put me in. Connecting with God and trusting in His plan for me is the first reminder I try to give myself.” And just like anything else, Matt says practice makes perfect. “I have started praying before every meal, every morning, every night, when I get in the car, etc. I have been blessed during this season that I have friends and family that want to be there. Even though I do not share deeply with all those people,

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when they reach out it is a reminder in those darker times how loved you are. I have had a close group of friends that have dropped their everything at times to be there and I share it all with them. Also, adding in regular counseling helps and becomes something to look forward to. But close friends or family that will be there when you hit a low is the most invaluable type of love. It is unconditional, full of grace, and it is never fleeting.” Understandably, many of us have faced our own internal battles in light of the pandemic that has plagued our world for nearly two years now. Couple the day-today uncertainty with the lack of human connectivity, added financial burdens, and direct health implications to ourselves and loved ones, and it’s been a recipe for a mental health disaster. “Everyone worldwide was forced to handle this the best they could,” Matt says. “Fortunately, in Mobile we had the absolute best weather during quarantine, which ultimately helped keep people outside at their homes. I had the pleasure of delivering pizza with Boom (Luke Peavy) in an attempt to keep our staff encouraged and to stay busy, and that time showed me how blessed we were because we just had each other. So much of an impact, I have a pizza slice tattoo as a reminder to enjoy the simple things.” The aftereffects have been much harder. “Trying to navigate through a whole new world with no real manual has caused a lot of mental stress,” Matt admits. Not one to buckle, Matt has risen to the challenge and plans to continue his efforts to break down the stigma surrounding mental health and snuff out the notion that those negative feelings need to be held in. “It’s okay to ask for help, it’s okay to get help, and it’s okay to take time for yourself,” Matt declares. “I have a mantra: ‘All Good Days.’ Those words couldn’t ring truer than in this season of life when I have been challenged the most. Many people may think that this is a happygo-lucky type of mantra, but it’s rather the opposite. Not all days have to be great days, but it’s our choice to make them all good days. At the end of each day, taking a second to be thankful for something good in your life can spark the mental positivity to keep moving forward.” Just keep swimming…

The local Movember chapter will be donating a large portion of its funds raised this year to one lucky local organization. Organizations interested are asked to email a short page submission on why their organization lines up with Movember’s efforts to impact men’s health in the Mobile/Baldwin area to

INTERESTED? Join Movember’s efforts & the local team at

Sam Calderone, Robert Smith, Derek Peterson, & Blane Stokley

Dylan Goff, Joe Hernandez, Hunter Kirksey, & Tyler Beard

58 ACCESS Magazine / October 2021

An exclusive private country club tucked away in the serenity of Privacy Championship golf course I Fine dining I Trophy Bass Lake I Quail Hunting 31925 Steelwood Ridge Road Loxley, AL 36551 I 251-964-9200

Experts agree this year’s holiday shopping season will be unlike anything we’ve ever seen due to labor shortages, clogged ports, limited inventories, longer shipping times, and more. So, why not skip the stress and get Insta-gratification by shopping local? A simple solution benefiting the entire community, ACCESS took to the streets to round up the Bay’s best gifts to give and get for this most merry and bright season. The best part? These goodies (and more) are just waiting for you to grab them up! Photos by Layla Lambert, Shot on location at Fairhope’s Jubilee Suites Boutique Hotel,

60 ACCESS Magazine / October 2021

Earrings, Call For Price; M.A. Simons, 251.479.4350.

Fur Vest, $106, Earrings, $20, Coin Purse, $55, Clear Handbag, $76, Sneakers, $80; Hemline, 251.287.6875.

Travel Jewelry Case, $54, Star Charm Necklace, $50; M.A. Simons, 251.479.4350. Fan, $68, Scarf Scrunchies, $24 Each, Pink Hand Bag, $62, Coin Necklaces, $98, Socks, $24; Rise, 251.341.7096.

Evening Clutch, $395; Debra’s, 251.343.7463.

Customizable Duffle Bag, $198, Customizable Makeup Bag, $58, Piggy Bank, $230; The Mix, 251.289.9137.

Spongellé Buffers, $16 Each, Apothecary Guild Diffuser, $48; The Holiday, 251.432.4911.

Lollia Bubble Bath, $60, Silk Pajama Set, $100; Five Gold Monkeys, 251.345.3380. Bowl Candle, $82; M.A. Simons, 251.479.4350. Silver Mint Julip Cup, $37.50; The Holiday, 251.432.4911.

Pajama Set, $96; Interwoven Collaborative, 251.517.7081.

Sidewalk Chalk, Call For Price, Pom Pom Headbands, Call For Price; GiGi & Jay’s, 251.928.2011.

Thymes Hand Lotion Mini Gift Set of 3, $28; Five Gold Monkeys, 251.345.3380.

Pink Furry Slippers, $98; The Holiday, 251.432.4911. Chinese Laundry Furry Slippers, $45; The Gallery Shoe Boutique, 251.344.4257.

62 ACCESS Magazine / October 2021


Christmas Pajamas, $42.99-$59.99; GiGi & Jay’s, 251.928.2011.

Plush Gummy Bear Set, $29.99, Plush Lunch Break Set, $34.99; Fantasy Island Toys, 251.928.1720.

Crab, $27.99, Ukulelé, $59.99; Fantasy Island Toys, 251.928.1720. Gone Fishing Bucket, $36.99; GiGi & Jay’s, 251.928.2011.

Baby Hats, $19.99-$22.99; GiGi & Jay’s, 251.928.2011.

Toddler Jackets, $59.99 Each; GiGi & Jay’s, 251.928.2011.

64 ACCESS Magazine / October 2021

7 S Section St, Fairhope, AL 2 51. 2 7 0 . 7 2 9 8


Truffle Honey, Spoon, Riser Set, Call For Price; M.A. Simons, 251.479.4350.

Royal Recipes 2021 Cookbook, $50 (all proceeds go to the Mobile Carnival Museum); Mobile Carnival Museum Gift Shoppe, Toomey’s Mardi Gras, Ashland Gallery, Zundel’s, M.A. Simons, & more. 66 ACCESS Magazine / October 2021

“ T h e m i n d a n d b o d y h a v e a r e c i p r o c a l r e l a t i o n s h i p. Engaging both in any healing process—regardless if it ’s physical or psychological—we offer professionally-led, customized journeys to true holistic health and happiness” — S y d n e y Wa s d i n , M . E d . , A L C , N C C , R Y T, F o u n d e r

A PEACEFUL PLACE TO FIND MIND-BODY WELLNESS Offering -Ta l k T h e r a p y - O p e n Yo g a C l a s s e s -Yo g a T h e r a p y - Customized Groups

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Designer Art Mugs, $32 Each, Designer Art Christmas Ball Ornaments, Call For Price; Interwoven Collaborative, 251.517.7081.

Throw Blanket, $85, Mug, Call For Price, Place Setting, $15-$40, Linen Napkin, $16; Willow + Gray Home, 251.316.6102.

Holiday Cocktails Book, $17, Coasters, $119, Gold Jigger, $32, Plain Gold Glass & Tumbler, $42-$45, Playing Card Set, $55, Decorative Glass, $47, Gold Zebra Tray, $65; Interwoven Collaborative, 251.517.7081.

Egg Holder, $13, Colanders, $17-$22, Potholders, $8 Each; Willow + Gray Home, 251.316.6102.

Gold Tongs, $18, Wooden Salt & Pepper Containers, $34; Willow + Gray Home, 251.316.6102. 68 ACCESS Magazine / October 2021

Decanter, $40, Vase, $62, Napkin rings, $22 Each, Napkins, $6 Each, Mug, $40, Trivet, $28; Willow + Gray Home, 251.316.6102.

WE ARE HERE TO PROVIDE QUALITY COSMETIC CARE Your wellness, our priority. We are committed to helping our clients reach optimal health, and to look and feel great. From weight loss and bioidentical hormone replacement therapy to aesthetics procedures such as body contouring, skin treatments, hair restoration, and dermal fillers, we offer services to help everyone achieve and maintain their personal best.

251.621.4950 30941 Mill Lane, Suite A Daphne, AL LABELLARX.COM

You Deserve

Everything Beautiful

Men’s Jacket, $125, Sunglasses, $199, Boots, $225; 7 South, 251.270.7298.

Men’s Vest, $99, Pants, $109, Graphic T-Shirt, $35, Coastal Cotton Long Sleeve Sport Shirt, $90; 7 South, 251.270.7298.

Men’s Black Track Jacket, $98, Sneakers, $130; 7 South, 251.270.7298.

CBD Products, Call For Price; Simply CBD, 251.586.8890.

CBD Products, Call For Price; Simply CBD, 251.586.8890.

70 ACCESS Magazine / October 2021


EXPERIENCE RELIEF FROM PAIN, ANXIETY, AND INFLAMMATION DAPHNE-PENSACOLA-MOBILE 2005 US-98, Daphne, AL 3664-A, Airport Blvd., Mobile, AL 251.586.8890 | 251.345.4005

Jacket, Call For Price; N. Harvell Men’s Clothier, 251.529.1412.

Cologne, $59.50, Oyster Buckle Belt, $139; N. Harvell Men’s Clothier, 251.529.1412.

Socks, $38.50 Each; N. Harvell Men’s Clothier, 251.529.1412.

Leather Sneakers, $190, Secrid Wallet, $135; N. Harvell Men’s Clothier, 251.529.1412.

72 ACCESS Magazine / October 2021

Home interiors, furnishings, art gallery & upscale retail boutique. Plus, fabulous selection of gifts for the holidays!

225 Fairhope Ave, Fairhope, AL | 251.517.7081 Open Tuesday-Saturday 10-5 @interwoven_ @interwovencollaborative


Top, $168, Fur Vest, $285, Handbag, $158; 7 South, 251.270.7298.

Teal Sports Bra, $92, Leggings, $99, Sneakers, Call For Price, White Pullover, $80; 7 South, 251.270.7298.

Top, $175, Fur Vest, $285, Handbag, $238; 7 South, 251.270.7298.

74 ACCESS Magazine / October 2021

Leather Puffer Jacket, $152, Sneakers, $298; 7 South, 251.270.7298.

Your Go To for Real Estate from the Bay to the Beach

JPAR Coast and County Mobile 318 Dauphin St Mobile, AL 36602 Office 251.423.6423 Cell 251.213.5358

The best Chicken Salad in the South! Locally Owned & Operated By Peter & Misty Hudson Whitehead

MOBILE 2370 Hillcrest Rd Unit R Mobile, AL 36695 251.250.1043 5753 Old Shell Rd. Mobile, AL 36608 251.241.5328

GULF SHORES 60 Cotton Creek Dr Unit 290, Gulf Shores, AL 36542 251.312.3378

Mobile Government Plaza, 205 Government St. Mobile, AL 36602 251.574.6247

DAPHNE 1802 US-98 Suite F, Daphne, AL 36526 251.220.9921

SARALAND 860 Industrial Parkway Suite J Saraland, AL 36571 251.287.2114

CHANGING COURSE Chef William Alexander is back home and at The Little Whiskey in Fairhope. Having worked with renowned chefs across the country, foodies like us can expect haute cuisine in a casual and relaxed atmosphere at this newly rebranded restaurant and bar. By Amber Wielkens Photos Stevye Photography,

76 ACCESS Magazine / October 2021


e love sharing the latest on, well, pretty much everything, but we especially enjoy a story about one of our own

returning home after cooking at some of the country’s best restaurants. Chef William Alexander, locally known as Billy, has created (and is expanding) the divine menu at The Little Whiskey. Formerly called The Little Whiskey Christmas Club, owners Bobby Kilpatrick and Noell Broughton have rebranded. While the bar is still open, their focus has shifted to dining. Noell says, “The Covid shutdown gave us the opportunity to make the changes we wanted to the building and our love of a great meal made us want to transition the spotlight to food.” And they were in luck. Billy, an old friend and world-class chef, was coming home. Billy says, “When I spoke with them before moving back, they told me they wanted it to feel more like a restaurant. Bobby had already mocked up a menu. It had good bones so I just made a few adjustments and started testing recipes. We want to showcase great ingredients, proper cooking technique, and developed, layered flavors in everything coming out of the kitchen.” Billy’s been cooking since he was 8 years old. “I could either work in a hot potato shed or a hot kitchen,” he jokes. “Between the two evils, I chose the one with my mother,” he laughs. Billy hails from a restaurant and farming family in Baldwin County and has cooked for as long as he’s been able to work. His résumé reads like a foodie’s bucket list, from Commander’s Palace in New Orleans to Michelin-starred Michael Mina in San Francisco, among other fine dining meccas, as well as being an instructor of fine dining and sustainability at Kendall College and helping start the Chicago Culinary Museum. On their friendship, Billy says, “I know Bobby and Noell from growing up in Fairhope. I used to go to 14 South, Noell’s first restaurant, and thought it was fantastic. I haven’t had the opportunity to work with them until now.

Bobby’s like a mad scientist, always brainstorming. Conversations with him are hilarious — you never know where you’ll end up. Noell is more reserved, hard-working, and practical. He’s very quick-witted and has a knack for the analytical side of the business. They’re both brilliant in different ways.” Creating and perfecting a top-notch menu isn’t easy. Billy explains his process, stating, “I like to go to a market knowing what’s available and in peak season. I start with proteins (or the focal point) of the dish, then build around that, making sure each ingredient plays a role and is there for a reason.” Inspiration is everywhere. “Conversations with Bobby and Noell and other chefs, commercials, eating at other restaurants, reading, walking in nature, and guest feedback — they all play a role,” he shares. A further testament to his high standards? Billy is working on in-house aging, curing, and preserving techniques to build a larder for year-round use when some ingredients are scarce. His current menu favorite? “I like the goat cheese croquettes; the cheese and accompaniments pair well together,” he admits. “We add brown butter and garlic oil to the cheese before beating it into submission. It makes them lighter, sweeter, and adds a deeper base flavor to balance the acidity of the cheese,” he declares. Based on his description, this will be at the top of our list when we visit. Other menu highlights include charcuterie, the maple bacon Caprese salad, skillet pizzas, and the barrel-cut filet with sauce perigourdine, served with truffled potato purée, pot licker greens, and chimichurri gremolata. Did we mention there’s also an artisanal cocktail menu? Regarding the restaurant’s ambience, Billy smiles, “It’s a whimsical little place, full of good people with a common goal to be a really solid small restaurant. We want our customers to feel welcome, relaxed, and to expect a great experience in food, beverage, and service.” He concludes, “I think food leaving my kitchen should be aesthetically pleasing, seasoned well, be nourishing, and arrive in a timely manner.”

As we wrap up our interview, Bobby, our favorite storyteller, gives us his entertaining testimony. “Billy is old-school Fairhope through and through. We’ve always known each other. I remember when I was working for Noell at 14 South and showing him around the kitchen. When he saw cleaned filet mignons that were unwrapped, he kind of got on to me. Now, we come from the same place, but I’m a bit older — he’s not supposed to do that, but when it comes to food, that’s how he is. What’s right is right, and he doesn’t care who you are. The preservation of something as beautiful as filet mignon has to be respected. For him to be that way back then, well, just imagine his genius now. I know he thinks I can be ‘out there’ sometimes, but he never shows it. I hope it’s because he understands what I’m saying, even when I don’t. That’s a professional. That, too, is my friend Billy.” A tribute like that deserves nothing less than a chef’s kiss. Welcome home, Billy.

The Little Whiskey 14 N. Church Street Fairhope, AL 251.270.7194

THE LITTLE WHISKEY 1 4 N C H U R C H S T, F A I R H O P E , A L 251.270.7194

78 ACCESS Magazine / October 2021

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SETH CHERNIAK Vice President/Branch Manager JOHN LYLE Senior Vice President/Financial Advisor 31 years SUSAN WINTERS CARRICK SUSANCHAD WINTERS Client Service Associate 35 years CLIFF FRALEY Client Service Associate President/Financial Advisor CHARLIEVice BAILEY Senior Vice President/Financial Advisor 40 years Vice President / SETH CHERNIAKVice President/Branch Manager 25 years Financial Advisor 28 years

Investments 22 years Senior Vice President/Financial Advisor


Accounts carried by RBC Clearing and Custody, a division of RBC Capital Markets, LLC. Member NYSE/SIPC. Accounts carried by RBC Correspondent Services, a division of RBC Capital Markets, LLC. Member Investment advisory services provided by Jeffrey Matthews Wealth Management.

NYSE/SIPC. Investment advisory services provided by Jeffrey Matthews Wealth Management.


OFFICES IN MOBILE ANDAND FAIRHOPE OFFICES IN MOBILE FAIRHOPE 1555 University Blvd SouthSuite 200 Mobile 311 Magnolia Ave Ste 108-120, Fairhope 5905 Airport Boulevard, Suite H, Mobile 8335 Gayfer Road Extension, Fairhope 251-301-0869 251-928-9008 251-301-0869 251-928-9008 251-990-0824



Bay Area Physicians for Women, the largest women’s health clinic in the area, with physicians for all your gyn and obstetrical needs.


2 51 . 3 4 4 . 5 9 0 0


3 7 15 D a u p h i n S t s u i t e 3 - b , M o b i l e , A L

REDEFINING MID-LIFE Hello ladies! In a world that emphasizes perfection, we know personally and professionally how easy it can be to fall victim to self-doubt and frustration regarding aging, body image, and overall wellbeing. With social media influencers’ seemingly flawless skin and tight and toned physiques on display 24/7, it’s no wonder we struggle with anxiety, depression, body dysmorphia, eating disorders, and other mental health issues, particularly as elasticity fades and drooping ensues. With safe, effective procedures like Botox, Dysport, Xeomin, and fillers at the ready, we’ve extended our aesthetics services to offer more in-depth medical and cosmeceutical options for everyone. With no-downtime procedures such as Hydrafacial, dermaplaning, and chemical peels, we can provide our patients with more options under one roof. It has been a goal of ours to help women find the tools to make themselves feel and look their best. Bridging the gap between medical and cosmetic treatments is laser hair reduction. Our GentleMax PRO by Candela can effectively and safely treat all skin types. This device is the gold standard in laser hair removal featuring both the Q-Switched Alexandrite and YAG wavelengths. Unwanted hair growth can really be a sensitive topic for women and we are here to change the narrative. We are providing an atmosphere that it is okay to talk about those things that make you not feel like the best version of yourself.

Quite the lookers themselves, Southern Women’s Specialists’ Angela McCool-Pearson, FACOG, and Christy James Guepet, MD, FACOG, FPMRS, know how real the struggle is when it comes to aging. Committed, they recently extended their aesthetics division with the latest technology has to offer to tighten and lift women up from head to toe.

It is important to us as physicians to only offer the highest grade of services and products to our patients. We have researched, read, and tested all of the products and procedures ourselves to ensure that our patients are only receiving the best. From dermaplaning to vaginal and bladder health services, we offer options for all women, no matter which stage you are in life. Of course, there are more intimate areas of the body that require attention, too. Morpheus 8 can be added to the other services such as Votiva, FormaV, and Aviva as solutions for female intimate health concerns. It’s also used alone for reversing signs of aging and tissue laxity all over the body, as Morpheus 8 tightens, resurfaces, and melts fat, ultimately resulting in improved tissue texture, smoothing of wrinkles, and the contouring of areas of specific concern. We’ve seen dramatic improvements when adding Morpheus 8 technology to FormaV, specifically for vulvar diseases of lichen sclerosus, lichen simplex, and severe atrophy caused by menopause. This is a great option for those concerned about chafing, discomfort with vulvar appearance through clothes, or body image struggles (and particularly those who have considered a surgical labiaplasty). Historically, these procedures were performed in the operating room and associated with a prolonged recovery, making it a difficult choice. SWS is pleased to offer less invasive options to address these concerns in the office with rapid recovery and no scarring or stitches. These treatments are remarkably effective under the eyes, around the mouth, and on the jowl line, neck, arms, and abdomen, too. Additionally, Morpheus 8 is safe on all skin types with little risk of postinflammatory hyperpigmentation (which is common with other resurfacing methods) and can also be used for axillary sweating and odor.

Southern Women’s Specialists 7540 Cipriano Court Suite C Fairhope, AL 251.990.1985

80 ACCESS Magazine / October 2021

Overall, know that we all struggle with little (or big) things that can steal our joy and wreak havoc on our mental state, but if any of those things become too heavy a burden to carry, SWS is here and ready to help lighten the load. Even better? We love helping others look and feel beautiful!

– Angie & Christy

Business news for Mobile and Baldwin counties

News from our weekly newsletter: JOHNSTONE ADAMS ATTORNEYS NAMED “2022 BEST LAWYERS”: Mobile-based Johnstone Adams recently announced nine of its attorneys were selected by their peers for inclusion in the 2022 edition of The Best Lawyers in America. Attorney Jessica L. Welch was named in the “Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch” in “Tax Law” list... LOCAL SCIENTIST CONTRIBUTES TO GLOBALLY USEFUL TOOL: The Dauphin Island Sea Lab has announced that its Senior Marine Scientist Dr. Ruth H. Carmichael, who is also a University of South Alabama Department of Marine Sciences professor, was among the more than 200 scientists who helped complete the initial species assessments that enabled the development of the new Green Status of Species tool on behalf of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)... PORSCHE OPENS NEW MOBILE LOCATION, DONATES: Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson announced there were several executives from Porsche in the city last week to celebrate the grand opening of Porsche Mobile at 1533 East Interstate 65 Service Road South...

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Almand J. Westbrook, Jr., M.D. 2651 Old Shell Road | Mobile, AL 36607 P (251) 243-7058 | F (251) 243-7059 Dr. Kimberly A. Westbrook, MD 101 Lottie Ln Unit 6, Fairhope, AL 36532 P (251) 990-1980

postcards from Greece DEAR FRIENDS,


@bbethweldon 82 ACCESS Magazine / October 2021

I have been on my Greek sojourn almost a year and am quite fond of the brilliant colors found daily on my walks through Athens, the islands, and the mainland. As an early bird, I enjoy the sunrise, and always look forward to the sunsets (and Greece does not disappoint). From the sprawling bougainvillea to the intense blue waters and green-covered hills, breathtaking visual stimulation abounds. As an artist, I am captivated by the clear, crisp, fresh colors of early morning, and have been transfixed as they become more muted yet still vibrant as the day progresses. Inspired by my adventures and the Greek lifestyle in general, I’ve been busy capturing these spectacular colors in their various stages of light in my new painting series, Greek Summer. For those keeping up with world affairs (climate change specifically), Greece recently suffered horrific fires not only on the mainland, but some islands as well. Although we did not personally experience damages in the center of Athens, many underwent tragic losses. It was surreal. For almost two weeks ash filled the air leaving a thick layer of evidence on my terrace. My heart breaks for those affected and for Greece as a whole, as they incurred significant historical losses. Transferring these emotions onto canvas, I created another Urban Series based not only on Greece, but the effects of the fires and climate change around the world. This new Urban Series focuses on the relationship of concrete, steel, glass, and asphalt present in cities, as well as the smokey hues. These intentional gestural strokes highlight the use of color, shape, and texture blending into one’s existence. Conceptually, these paintings are strong, stark, and energetic, yet peaceful, sophisticated, and unified. A portion of the proceeds from this newly inspired Urban Series will be donated to Greece to help with their fire relief fund. Preparing for my trip back to the Bay area and with the holidays approaching, I’m grateful to still offer private commissions. Whether meeting in person or over Zoom calls, I enjoy sharing in the excitement of a project, special event, or specific memory they’d like preserved. It’s wonderful to be asked to participate in one’s life, and I am honored to be part of these creations that will be enjoyed for generations to come. Often a gift, I feel the gift is all mine. In this time of Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for these colorful adventures centered around family, friends, and art. Simply stated, true beauty lies between the black and white!


Friday Lunch

Why not meet your friends for a sumptuous salad and glass of Rosé?

Open for Lunch on Fridays