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The Fullness of Midlife

Replay: "I've never stopped dreaming..."

Replay: "I've never stopped dreaming..."

by Dr. Barb DePree MD

 As we wind down the summer, we thought we'd revisit this inspirational conversation with Dr. Scharmaine Lawson. She embraces reinvention, has a spirit of both entrepreneurship and service, and encourages young girls to consider STEM careers.  


Dr. Scharmaine LawsonDr. Scharmaine Lawson is a nationally recognized nurse practitioner with over nineteen years of experience, practicing in many different settings, and currently in her hometown of New Orleans. She has received many awards and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing and of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. Dr Lawson is the winner of the 2013 Healthcare Hero award and the 2008 Entrepreneur of the Year award from Advance for Nurse Practitioner magazine. She has developed a house call practice and trains other practitioners to duplicate it, bringing personalized care to patients who may not easily access more traditional medical care. Dr Lawson also has a series of children’s books that help children understand the role of nurses and encourage girls to pursue STEM and entrepreneurship.

Dr. Barb: Our guest today is Dr. Scharmaine Lawson, a nurse practitioner who has practiced in many settings, and she currently is in her home town of New Orleans. She has won many awards, among them the 2013 Healthcare Hero Award and the 2008 Entrepreneur of the Year Award from the Advance for Nurse Practitioner magazine. She’s developed a house-call practice, and she trains other practitioners to duplicate it to bring personalized care to patients who many not otherwise have access to care.

Scharmaine also has a series of children’s books that help children understand the role of nurses, and to encourage girls to pursue STEM and entrepreneurship. Dr. Lawson and I were first acquainted when we both participated in a focus group a few months ago regarding women’s health. I’m really pleased to have her as a guest on our show. Welcome, Scharmaine.

Scharmaine: Hi. Thank you for having me.

Dr. Barb: Yes. So let’s start out by talking about the role of nurse practitioners and their important part right now in the healthcare delivery system that we have.

Scharmaine: Sure. First of all, thanks again for having me. It’s such an honor to be here, and anytime I have an opportunity to talk about the role of advanced practice nurses, I get all excited! Right? [laughs]

First off, the role of the advanced practice nurse is constantly changing and evolving. I am proud to be a member of the profession because at this point we are evolving into so many more things that we can do as healthcare professionals and providers. In most states we have what is called full practice, or full-practice authority, where they can practice independently without collaboration of a physician or having a physician signing the orders or any prescriptions. That doesn’t mean that nurse practitioners won’t have physicians as colleagues and have them as cohorts that they will consult with for cases that may be more complicated. But it does mean that in rural areas in particular, nurse practitioners will have the authority and ability to see more patients because you don’t have restrictions. Based on their license and their scope of practice, for instance, if a patient needed to be admitted to a hospital, and the nurse practitioner was, in fact, the healthcare provider for that area—or the only healthcare provider for that area—they would not have a restriction of getting the patient admitted to the hospital or providing healthcare for this particular patient, because there was no physician around that needed to sign orders to get the patient admitted to the hospital. So, overall that’s what it’s about. It’s about increasing access to primary care, particularly in rural areas or in areas where there is a healthcare provider shortage.

Dr. Barb: So what drew you personally into this field?

I was drawn to nursing because of my willingness to help humans and be compassionate.Scharmaine: [laughs] Ha! You know, I like to say that I sort of fell into being an entrepreneur; let’s start there. I’ve been a registered nurse (and I’m getting ready to tell my age here [laughs]), a registered nurse since 1989 [laughs], and I became a nurse practitioner in 2000. I was originally drawn to the field of nursing in particular because of one: my willingness to help humans, and to just be compassionate. I think those are the things that drew me initially to a health care services career. And then secondly, once I got into the profession, I was drawn to the diversity of specialties that nursing offered me. Meaning that I wasn’t pigeonholed into, “Oh I want to work med-surg today and that will be my career—med-surg for nursing.” I had several options. I could be flight nursing; I could do forensic nursing; I could work in a traditional clinic; I could work with well babies—which was my favorite [laughs], you know, or just anything. And that’s something that gave me the longevity: the fact that I could certainly choose the different areas to specialize in to find something that was a niche for me.

Dr. Barb: I think that’s an interesting designation because a lot of times physicians end up in a lane of specialty that doesn’t really allow them a lot of flexibility. As you mentioned, your field of nursing could start so broadly and allow you to evolve and grow and fine-tune into the areas that resonate mostly with you.

Scharmaine: Yes. Yes.

Dr. Barb: A recurring theme on our podcast is often reinvention. I think maybe you just touched on it. It usually leads us to follow our passions, and maybe through different adventures or beginnings that we hadn’t anticipated. Can you share with the listeners maybe reinvention has played a role for you?

Scharmaine: Sure. Oh, my gosh. I have so many stories—definitely more than an hour’s worth here [laughs]. But I’ll try to be as simple as I can. I will say that when I became a nurse practitioner—that was in 2000—I did not start out and say, “Oh, I want to be an entrepreneur.” I just said, “I want to be a nurse practitioner, and I want to give the best care possible.”

What happened was, in 2004 I was approached by a physician who was getting ready to retire. And she said, “You know, I would like to maybe have you to take over my practice and see some of my patients. They are all homebound, and in many cases, they are bed-bound. Would you mind seeing them? And I could help you out and be your collaborator, or whatever you need.” So I said, “Sure. I’m guessing that’s okay, kind of like a Marcus Welby kind of thing [laughs]. You know?” She said, “Yeah. Exactly.” [laughs] Again, I’m telling my age, right! She said, “You know, you go to the homes. You provide primary care”—and this is in a rural part of Louisiana—“There’s really no other healthcare provider out there. It was me, and I’m not going to be doing it anymore, and I’m happy to help you.”

So I started out seeing those 15 patients, and the practice grew over three months from 15 to 100 patients who were homebound and in many cases, bed-bound. When you talk of reinvention, well, here we go. Hurricane Katrina hits, and I wasn’t sure what I would do. I evacuated the city just like most people did—and that was in August of 2005, really shortly after I had just started my practice—and I was faced with a decision. Do I want to stay in San Antonio, Texas, or do I want to return back home to New Orleans where it was basically ground zero. No hospitals were open. People were calling me from all over America saying they needed their records; they needed help, doctors, nurse practitioners. People were calling me saying, “We have your patients here. What are you going to do?”

So then I was faced with do I want to go back there or do I want to stay here? I decided to return to New Orleans and open up my practice. I’m so glad I did because I essentially reinvented the practice, redesigned it, had to restart it all over again, that I had just started a few months before. And it turned out to be the biggest blessing for me because we quickly surged to 500 patients in three months because of, of course, the lack of healthcare.

Our theme is providing better access to health care, regardless of ability to pay.What I’m finding that the theme of my whole practice now as an NP is providing access to healthcare wherever the patients are, regardless of race, economic status, or, you know, ability to pay. And that’s been the recurring theme, and I’m happy about that. So I was happy to return, happy to provide primary care in some of the most dangerous areas of the city that not only did not have police patrol, but they had no lights or electricity. But the goal was, again, to provide primary care. I think once you develop and establish the theme of your practice, or the culture of the practice you want to have, then that’s something that follows you.

Dr. Barb: So if the hurricane happened August 2005, when were you back, actually able to have patient contact?

Scharmaine: October, October 2005.

Dr. Barb: And was your practice, and is it still primarily a house-call practice? How has it evolved or changed?

Scharmaine: Yes, it has definitely had an evolution, in that New Orleans has, for the most part, bounced back in certain areas of the city, and particularly in healthcare. Healthcare has evolved and it has become a lot stronger, and everybody now has an electronic medical record, okay. But what’s different is that it’s no longer designated as New Orleans proper, it no longer has a healthcare provider shortage area, so that means that I don’t really have to go to a lot of the little rural areas of the state anymore. I still provide house calls, however, what we have done in that, what all businesses must do, is you must evolve and change with the times and diversify the services that you offer. We do do house calls, but we also offer traditional clinic visits as well as telemedicine now in the new and improved, redesigned practice. Because we’re finding that it’s better to just branch out and offer services to millenials and other people who may need care, but at the same time, some of them may not have insurance. So now that goes into, remember what I said about a theme, a theme of providing better access to healthcare, regardless of a patient’s ability to pay, so we find that we can offer telemedicine to patients who may not be able to pay, but they still get primary care resources. So these are the new things that we’re doing and we’ve evolved into now in time are telemedicine services and traditional clinic services for patients who want to see us on site. And there’s just some things that I’m just not going to do in a house, which is a pap smear, you gotta come in for that. [laughs]

Dr. Barb: [laughs]

Scharmaine: I need you in here.

Dr. Barb: Yeah, I’m envisioning the logistics, and I’m with you on that [laughs]. So really, you are meeting your patients’ need, really wherever they are.

Scharmaine: Wherever they are, that’s what it is, that’s what it has to be, that, wherever they are. But at the same time as a nurse practitioner, I realize that there are limitations, so I work closely here in the state of Louisiana with collaborating physicians, so that if there’s anything that needs to be done or if we need to admit to a hospital, or something of that nature, I operate within my scope of practice, and we certainly get our patients the care that they need. But for the most part—and I operate with another NP that works with me—we’re able to meet all of the patients’ needs.

Dr. Barb: And I’m sure mobility and accessibility to transportation probably dictates or defines the needs that patients might have to be seen in their home, but can you speak a little bit about how the visit differs, seeing a patient in their own home versus in a practice setting?

Scharmaine: Sure. I would say that the first thing that differentiates the home visit from a traditional office visit is that the provider is no longer in control. That means that you go to the home, and you can have your set of rules where you say, don’t smoke, put your dog away, no snakes, these sorts of things. [laughs]

Dr. Barb: [laughs]

Scharmaine: And I’m being serious. [laughs] You get to the home and they say well, you know, “I didn’t smoke,” but the smoke and the fumes are still embedded in the drapes. You can get there, but there’s smoke in the air, and they stopped smoking two hours ago, but the home still smells like smoke. Right?

Dr. Barb: Of course, yes.

Scharmaine: Or if you have an allergy to dogs or cats, there’s cat hair everywhere. These are the things that you really can’t control. That’s like the biggest thing, the environmental differences that are there when you visit a patient in the home. There are nonspecific wet spots on the chair [laughs]. Am I going to sit? Okay. You know, when you bring your equipment in, for me, again, environment will dictate the type of care you’re going to give. So you know, am I going to bring all of my supplies in a neat little messenger bag, so when I go into this home I’m not going to sit down at all, I’m going to have everything in my messenger bag? I’m will just grab everything out of here and say, “Hello, how are you?” and talk to them, standing, do the assessment standing, diagnosis, everything standing, and when it’s time to go, you walk out of the door—literally you never sit down. So is this something that you can anticipate doing in a traditional office setting? That’s no, right?

But, you have to focus on why you are going there. So again, if you are going there to do something pretty simple, like some of my simple visits are doing an ear lavage. Most of my seniors have impacted cerumen, so I’m going to go do an ear lavage. And what will differentiate what type of ear lavage I do is whether or not they have great water pressure. Because I usually use a—I don’t know if I can say the brand name—but it’s a pretty sophisticated system that connects to the water system, or the spigot, the water pipe from sink. Well, if the patient doesn’t have adequate water pressure, it’s not going to work. So, I have to have a backup syringe with me, to give the pressure, or one of the other little fancier, smaller, you know, economical devices.

So you have to really adapt and change to your environment, to what you’re going to see in the home. And these are the types of nuances that make primary care in the home, for some more challenging, but for me, more exciting. Because I’m thinking this is great, I never know what I’m going to get, this is great. But the important thing is that I’m providing, again, the access to care that this patient normally would not have had.

Dr. Barb: I'm also wondering if the interaction is different, in the sense that I sometimes think patients are telling us in our practices maybe what they want us to hear, and are disclosing the answers are what they think they should be. And I’m wondering if seeing them in their home setting doesn’t allow that? Maybe there’s more transparency just by being in that space? Am I at all correct in that?

Your blood doesn't lie and neither do your cupboards.Scharmaine: Absolutely, Doc, you’ve hit it on the head. What do they say? You’ve hit the nail on the head. Literally, I have patients who come to me, they are dressed in their Sunday best and you think, oh my goodness, what’s going on? I cannot get your blood sugar or your A1C where it needs to be. I cannot get your blood pressure, you know, I just cannot get it controlled. And you do a home visit, and you will see that the cupboards are piled high with Oreo cookies or you know, they have pickled pig meat in the fridge. Or they have all this hot sauce and all these different types of seasonings with salt and you can directly see the correlation between what they are eating and their blood pressure readings or their blood sugar levels.You can directly see the correlation.  And so I’m always telling them, I’m always saying, “Honey, the blood doesn’t lie and neither do your cupboards.”

Dr. Barb: [laughs]

Scharmaine: [laughs] I can see what is in your cupboards, let me go and look in your pantry. They know! I am so nosy; I’ll get in the home and I’ll say, “How you doing?” Get their pressure and say, “Things are not going right. Let me see what’s in your cabinets.” They know I will open the refrigerator, and we will have a little talk. Okay, let’s have a little talk. Let me just help you, in real time now, see this label. I can pull something out of the refrigerator and say, this is the label that you need to look at. This is why what you’re eating is not healthy. And it’s right there, because they are not going to bring these items in with them to the traditional visit, right?

Dr. Barb: Yeah.

Scharmaine: Also we can see if they have electricity or if they have running water. Because these sorts of things, when they don’t have them, when a patient is having to make a decision between, okay, am I going to pay my light bill or am I going to be able to buy my Losartan [blood pressure medication]? Am I going to be able to get my insulin or am I going to have to maybe not have cable or a phone bill, pay my phone bill. You see acutely what the needs are, and the community and environmental stressors that impact the physical man. You see that.

Dr. Barb: Yeah, we talk about in healthcare a lot, but you have such a unique opportunity to experience it, that most practitioners don’t.

Scharmaine: They don’t want to tell you, because they are embarrassed, they don’t want to tell their healthcare provider that they don’t have food or they don’t have electricity. They don’t want to say that, nobody wants to feel as though they can’t care for their families, or that they can’t care for themselves. That’s a total ego buster, it really is and it really weighs on your psyche if you can’t take care of your family or yourself. Especially in certain communities of color, whereas it’s pride and it’s a cultural thing. They’re not going to let a provider know, particularly if the provider doesn’t look like them, they’re never going to let the provider know that they’re poor.

Dr. Barb: Sure. So, just to change topics here just a little bit. You have received an award as the Entrepreneur of the Year. So talk to me a little bit about Scharmaine the entrepreneur.

Scharmaine: [laughs] The Scharmaine the entrepreneur never stops dreaming. [laughs]

Dr. Barb: I love that!

I've never stopped dreaming and I've never stopped creating.Scharmaine: I’ve never stopped dreaming, and I’ve never stopped creating, and it’s all a part of the brand: DrLawsonNP. I constantly keep creating, and it’s not because of things that I want; it’s mostly out of need and a necessity. For instance, Nola the Nurse. Nola the Nurse was born not so much because, “Oh this is what the world needs.” No, this is something right now. This is acute. Yeah, it is something we need, not want, but need. We need right now. And why? Because there were no books on the market at all that talked about the role of the nurse practitioner for children or the role of the CRNA or the role of the midwife, for children. And when my daughter was born, I wanted to just get her a book that sort of, just loosely described what mommy did, you know, as a nurse practitioner. So I began looking for books to fill her little childhood library about what I did, and I didn’t see it. And more importantly, as most people know, there’s a lack of African American or people of color also represented in the kid lit or children’s literature arena. So I didn’t see that as well, when I looked for characters who were of different colors, different hues, it didn’t exist. So I wrote Nola the Nurse—Nola standing for New Orleans, Louisiana, which is the setting. Very creative, very inventive right?

Dr. Barb: Yes, delightful!

Scharmaine: And so she is actually a little girl who wants to be a nurse practitioner—yes yes, very original, like her mom. And what she does is, she goes on house calls with her mom and learns how to take care of patients. Well, she sees her mom take care of patients in the home. And what she does is she starts telling her friends, “You know what, I’m a nurse practitioner. I want to be a nurse practitioner.” And so she begins taking care of their sick baby dolls, just like her mom.

But the plot twist on all of this is when she goes to their homes, to take care of the kids, just like in a traditional house call or home care setting, she discovers a different culture with every home she visits. Again, just like any home you visit, it’s going to be a different culture. One home, you’re going to have to take off your shoes, another home, you know, you can’t smoke. Whatever it is, every home has a culture, correct?

Dr. Barb: Yes.

Scharmaine: So what I wanted to do was show readers that, one, the role of the nurse practitioners; but also two, foster cultural sensitivity in children, in that, when she enters the home, she learns about the culture. But, she also gets to eat a meal specific to that culture. For instance, the first home she visits in volume one, is a home where the patient and her family are from Kenya. So she gets to learn a little bit about Kenya, and she gets to eat a great meal from Kenya, which is matoke. Then another story we talk about New Orleans, and who comes to New Orleans without eating a beignet, right? So, she gets to learn a little bit about New Orleans and what happened during Hurricane Katrina, and gets to eat beignets. The remarkable thing is that at the end of each story, you get to eat—well, not only get to eat a meal, but get to see the recipe. I enclose the recipe for the meal that they’ve had.

Again, it’s about fostering cultural sensitivity. Exposing children at a very young age. The books are definitely for children from the age of four to eight. Exposing them on a very small scale, about just starting to say, “nurse practitioner.” Just starting them to say, here’s a big one, “certified registered nurse anesthetist” right? What four year old can say that? I want to see them [laughs]. Right?

Dr. Barb: Right. And where can listeners find these books?

Scharmaine: They are all on our website: But more importantly—that’s if you want autographed copies—they are also on Amazon, the entire series, hard cover, soft cover, we have coloring books for all three books that are out. And we have two of the books are translated into Spanish and French, and we have six activity books. The activity books range from ages four to about nine, whereas they can learn how to write, they can learn how to do math and all other—basically busy-books that you want your kids to do when you’re on a long car trip. When you want them to just start to do some multiplication, doing fractions, that sort of thing. And we are coming out with a big STEM book in another couple of months, to help kids get used to seeing, you know, the heart, lungs, I have fingers attached to my arms, just small things like that, getting them excited about this very important STEM career as an advanced practice nurse.

Dr. Barb: I think another area of interest for you has been technology?

Scharmaine: Oh yeah, I love it.

Dr. Barb: So talk a little bit about what your work has been, whether it’s electronic medical records or, and how you have integrated that or embraced that, or just speak about your interest there.

Scharmaine: Yeah, I have always been a closet nerd. Always playing with phones and all kinds of electrical devices. When something new came out I always had it. Of course, when the Palm Pilot, came out, yes I’m telling my age, but when it came out back in the early 2000s, I had one. I had a small, I guess you would say, a skeleton of an H and P [medical shorthand for history and physical; the initial clinical evaluation and examination of a patient] already on my Palm Pilot already when Hurricane Katrina hit. I had all of my patients, again a small skeleton of a note, nothing fancy, just a note that was on each patient on my Palm Pilot.

So when I evacuated to San Antonio, consequently, folks were calling me to get information on these patients, I was able to readily pull it up on my Palm Pilot, because when I evacuated, that was one of the first things I grabbed was my Palm Pilot. I didn’t know then that it would be very needed, because I didn’t know that the city would be completely flooded, but I’m so glad that I grabbed it, because that way I had my electronic data on my all of patients. And I was able to instantly share that with everyone who was calling me from Kansas to Canada where they were evacuated. Consequently when I got back and all the hospitals were shuttered and they didn’t have their patient data, I had my patient data. So when patients called me I said, “Yeah I know all the medications you are on, I know your last A1C, I know everything. I know your last mammogram.” I had all that, so I was able to basically not miss a beat.

So, that along with me just loving, again, everything electronics, kind of spurred my interest into becoming an Alexa Skills Developer. And so I’ve developed some Alexa Skills geared towards nurse practitioners and others—of course, advanced practice nurses, they are called NP Facts, CRNA Facts, Midwifery Facts, and you just go on to Amazon and you type in NP Facts or just tell Alexa “NP Facts,” and you will hear 20 or 30 facts about what nurse practitioners do, what midwives do, what CRNAs do. And I’ve done one for STDS, STD Facts, STD Facts for Teens, just kind of small things, where you just want to know some facts about gonorrhea or know some facts about herpes, or know something simple about clamidia. Just some things like that, and you know I just love that. And I think things like healthcare and anything related to HIT or Healthcare Information Technology, is a perfect marriage.

Dr. Barb: Yeah, I think that’s fascinating, because the need exists, and especially for reliable facts. Because, I think we all experience what happens with some of the searches for information, and the bad information that’s out there. So this idea of coming from a clinician who has accurate information that is being disseminated, so I hope you can continue to expand that knowledge to make it available to consumers.

Scharmaine: Yes ma’am, I’m hoping.

Dr. Barb: You were raised by your grandmother.

Scharmaine: I was, I was.

Dr. Barb: And she allowed you opportunities, obviously, that led you to enormous success. Is that where some of your interest in mentoring has come?

Scharmaine: I would say yes, because my grandmother was an amazing angel, and the driving force to how I got to where I am today. She adopted me when I was four months old and she was 60. And yeah, and I didn’t realize the significance of that until I got older and she was dead, of course. But I am so thankful that she had the stamina and the heart to do that. And even though she did not have a formal education, not much at all, in fact. Most of the time she would always say, “Look, my mom was a slave. There’s not much I can teach you. I can pray for you, and you can just get the encyclopedia”—and that’s when encyclopedias were cool [laughs], “…and look it up.” That was my Google. “Go look it up and tell me.”

I think that the fact that she just loved me and constantly encouraged me, those two simple things that need to exist, without money, and just laying a compassionate foundation for me. So, yes, because of her love and because of her willingness to just give me her heart—and give it to me consistently. It’s not just like a scenario, whereas you may see your mom every other weekend, and you don’t have a relationship with them. Something that where we lived together, and I loved her so much ‘til when I graduated from nursing school in 1989, I took a travel assignment, and she for the first time was able to move out of New Orleans and experience what it would feel like to own a home.

We purchased a home in Baltimore, and lived there. I worked in Baltimore for a while as a travel nurse and she was with me, we traveled. Whenever I would travel I would say, I need an extra room, because I have a roommate, and she just happens to be 89 years old [laughs].

Dr. Barb: Oh, what a beautiful story. Wow, that’s remarkable. Do you continue to mentor now? Is that part of your—

Children and students need to see people who look like them, who've done some things they feel are unattainable.Scharmaine: Yes, I do, that was the question, I got caught up into my grandmother. Yes, yes, yes. I do continue to mentor, because I just think it’s important that children and students, particularly students who are marginalized, and children and students who come from underserved areas, they need to see mentors who look like them. They need to see people who look like them, who have done some things that they feel are unattainable. Some of these children and these students—we’re talking about NP students—are the first in their family to go to college, still to this day in 2019. We have students that I find, it’s their first time going to college, first in their family going to college, and they need to see, not only is college education attainable, but they need to see that success after graduating is also attainable. And I also share with them my stories of how I wasn’t as successful with passing Boards the first time, because I was out partying, and I didn’t feel as though I needed to study [laughs]. So I share with them how, you know, it’s really important to study, because you could kill someone [laughs].

Dr. Barb: [laughs] Details, details.

Scharmaine: Yes, these little details. You know, I tell them that you need to study, and you need to pass. You need to pass the Boards. And now I tell them that story and also tell them about my road to entrepreneurship, whereas I say, “Look, everybody you talk to, almost every other NP it seems to me these days are starting a practice. “I’m starting my practice.” “I’m doing this.” And I say, “Well that’s great. That’s fine.” But we all know it’s one thing to start a practice, and it’s another thing to maintain a practice, right?

Dr. Barb: Yes.

Scharmaine: Those are two separate entities. Please understand this. Right? You can start it, but can you maintain it? So they need to see that not only have I started a practice, but I’ve maintained it, and we’ve been in practice now for 15 years and counting.

Dr. Barb: Congratulations.

Scharmaine: Thank you, thank you.

Dr. Barb: Wow, that is fabulous. So as we conclude our time together, this may be hard for you to answer, but I’m going to ask, where do you find fullness in your life?

Scharmaine: For me, it’s not really that hard, it’s just that I have to kind of find the words to describe it.

Dr. Barb: I thought it might be hard to narrow it down [laughs].

Scharmaine: I don’t know; it’s a good thing. I’m at a good place now, whereas I’m able to find fullness in tapping into my spirituality, and also incorporating some self-care techniques that I had really not done before. And I don’t mind saying that. I just think that as caregivers—which I was for several years with my grandmother, and as a healthcare provider—that being my foundation and core of who I am as a human is that, we don’t often take care of ourselves.

It's okay to unplug. When I pour more into me, I'm able to pour more into others.Caregivers, we see everyone, want to take care of everyone, and we don’t realize that in order for us to keep being great and keep giving so much to others, we have to continually feed, water, and care for our souls. And that’s something that I hadn’t done for many years. And two years ago I realized, when I got sick, that I needed to finally, again—now listen to me—two years ago right? Two years ago I said, “You know what? I’ve got to finally start taking care of me.” So what did I do? I went out and bought a really great bike that I ride all the time now—a stationary bike. I started just planning impromptu things for Scharmaine. I planned to just get a massage once a month. Once a month, I’m getting a massage and guess what? When you are getting a really good massage, you can’t check your email [laughs]. You cannot text and get a massage, it just doesn’t work like that. So, it’s like I have to strategically plan, every month, that I’m going to just totally unplug. And I think that’s the thing. Finding fullness is saying that it’s okay to unplug, giving yourself permission to unplug, and be okay with that. Because your unplugging will allow you to birth so much more to the people you’re serving. So that’s how I find fullness. I unplug. I pour back into me. So I look at it as when I pour more into me, I’m able to pour more into others, and that’s how I make it okay.

Dr. Barb: Wow, what a great way of stating that. And I think it’s a great message that we all need to be reminded of. Thank you for sharing that, and thank you for taking the time out of your day to share with listeners your amazing journey professionally and personally.

Scharmaine: Thank you so much for having me. Thank you.


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