Sharon Offley of Hua Moon Women's Health
When you sit across the table from Sharon you feel instantly calm. I can't explain it exactly other than that somehow she has a frequency that balances out whatever angst you are feeling and you just want to soak it up. Her story is more of an unfolding of layers that have guided her to this point; a result of trusting in the process when you focus on what sparks your interest. Read on to hear her reflections and be encouraged that an unfolding journey is one that can lead to great things ahead.
Who were you as a 10 year old? I was a carefree kid, doing the ‘Pennsylvania versions’ of Kauai stuff…sledding with my sister and cousins in the winter, swimming or playing in backyards in summer. After college I wanted to experience something different, so I drove across country and moved to Hawaii. What was your first experience that sparked a desire to work with women? I met a young woman who shared the stories of her home births with me, and I was inspired. I’d never even been to a birth! I didn’t even know that I I would be be able to care for women across the lifespan! I was in my 20’s, and had spent the last 5 years more or less playing and surfing and traveling a bit, and was at a place where I wanted to pursue work that felt meaningful to me. What has the path looked like - are there specific milestones? I attended Kauai Community College to became a nurse, then Baylor College of Medicine in Houston to get my master’s degree. I took my first job in Philadelphia and the next in West Virginia in Appalachia. During this time my husband and I had 3 children in 4 years! We returned to Kauai when they were babies and I taught nursing at Kauai Community College. All of these things were milestones in a way… but 10 years ago I left KCC to pursue home birth on Kauai. Leaving a ‘secure’ career for my passion felt like a really big milestone and it led to Colleen Bass and I forming our own private practice, Hua Moon Women’s Health LLC in 2014.
What are the unique strengths you bring to the work you do? Hmmm… There are all kinds of ‘less than great’ things about aging. But lately I’ve recognized an emotional maturity that comes with time and age that has added a ‘depth’ to my practice that Im not sure was there 20 years ago. I’m better able to really see and hear the woman in front of me, and respond to her and her unique story and situation. I’d sure like to think so at least. When do you feel most alive? In my work, I get to ‘walk’ alongside women in the many chapters of their lives. And that makes me feel alive. I get to be present for these really authentic moments. Midwife means ‘with women’. I am with women: as young women contemplate contraception and sexuality for the first time. I am with women as they celebrate pregnancies and babies, or grieve miscarriage and pregnancy loss. I am with women as they grapple with diagnosis of sexually transmitted infection, or sustain heartbreak, or find their way through menopause….
It just feels like an honor and privilege to be with women during their times of greatest joy and most exquisite vulnerability.
Who has shaped your career? There are many mentors I could thank, but without a doubt I have to say Claudia Brown, the founder of Home Birth Kauai. She had a way of connecting with women and families that I’ve never seen before or since. She saw something in Colleen and I that we may not even have seen in ourselves and recruited each of us to join ‘Home Birth Kauai’. Together, we welcomed many many babies into the world at her home in the Wailua Homesteads! When she died, we wanted to carry on her mission of empowering women. It’s fair to say that the very best parts of Hua Moon were inspired by Claudia and this really special place wouldn’t exist without her.
What are you noticing in your career right now? The biggest shift in the last few years is the expansion of Hua Moon’s women’s health services and opening our Lihue office . In addition to prenatal care and birth we are doing more and more gynecology, birth control, primary care, menopause support, annual exams etc etc. It’s really fun to work with Colleen as we grow Hua Moon. Learning about the business and marketing side of running a women’s health practice is a big challenge and its fun to wear all the hats in running a business here on Kauai together.
What are you reading/listening to/watching?
Love reading but not reading anything at this moment!
Listening to Duolingo podcast , trying to learn Spanish.
Watching ‘Sex Education’ - hilarious.
What are you curious about exploring further in 2020? Professionally Colleen and I are exploring lots! We’re planning our first women’s retreat in the Fall which I think will be really cool. We are participating on a ‘telehealth’ platform called HMSA Online care and through this we can offer ‘Telemedicine’ evenings, weekends etc. That is pretty exciting.
I also feel there are some ‘gaps’ in care on our small rural island, in mental health for example. I see women srtuggling with things like anxiety and depression and there aren’t many resources. I’d like to acquire more continuing education in ‘niche’s’ like these to better serve our community.
Personally…I’d like to take a trip somewhere new and literally explore more of the world
What advice do you have to share? Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Reach out. Most people enjoy helping and its an honor to be asked.
Thank you Sharon for inspiring us with your story, so excited for the things to come!
To see more of her work check our her website or follow her on instagram.