This week, I sat down with Dr. Dona Locke to get to know more about her. Dr. Locke is the HABIT Director at Mayo Arizona and is a delightful person. I hope you enjoy reading this interview as much as I enjoyed conducting it!
Miranda Morris: How did you get into studying memory?
Dr. Locke: I worked as a psychometrist for a neuropsychologist. A psychometrist is trained to administer and score cognitive tests, but not to interpret them. I found the interpretation part fascinating and decided to go to graduate school to become a neuropsychologist after that.
MM: What is your favorite thing about the HABIT Program?
DL: When my patients and partners come around to loving the MSS as much as I do!
MM: Tell me a little bit about your family!
DL: I’m married with two kids—ages 6 and 3. They came along as surprises a little later in life after years of trying. I also have two adults stepdaughters, ages 19 and 20. I have two younger sisters—One here in town and another in New Mexico. My parents are also here in town. Most of my extended family is spread out, but I’m originally from Louisiana and have some family still there. There is nothing like Cajun food anywhere. I’m a Cajun food snob for sure.
MM: What’s your favorite tip for de-stressing?
DL: For me, it is nice to be able to have a moment where I can do NOTHING. No work, no housework, just rest and relax. Read a book, enjoy some sunshine. I’m working to add exercise into my de-stressing routine on a more regular basis.
MM: Some of the healthy habits that we talk about in the program include eating well, emotional self-care and getting quality sleep. With such a busy work life and a family, how do you make sure to practice the habits of wellness?
DL: I have to be honest that it always feels like a work in progress to me. I’m rarely doing all the wellness habits as well as I should, but I am always working on it. The one habit I do well regularly is quality sleep. I’ve long had a bedtime routine that helps me wind down at bed time and I’m quite reliable in that routine. I sleep well most of the time. This one has been easy for me since I had my children and realized how much less resilient I was during those normal baby sleep deprivation times. I also fairly routinely look for moments to express gratitude. Sometimes that is something I actually write in the Notes section of my MSS, sometimes it is just a mental reflection when I notice I’m feeling stressed or anxious. Reminding myself of something I’m grateful for helps in those moments.
MM: How long have you been a part of HABIT?
DL: We ran our first full clinical HABIT session here at Mayo AZ in July of 2013. However, I was involved in some earlier research projects that led up to HABIT for a few years before that.
MM: How many times a day do you refer to your calendar?
DL: A million!
MM: Do you have a hidden talent?
DL: I won a barrel racing rodeo when I was 6. My horse’s name was Cornflakes. I’m also a pretty good long distance swimmer. My secret dream would be to do one of those long swim challenges like swimming the English Channel or from Cuba to Florida.
MM: What was a lesson that you learned in 2017?
DL: I don’t know if this is really a lesson, but I’ve really appreciated getting to run HABIT with two amazing women. Dr. Chandler is not only my colleague, but probably my best friend even though she lives 1000s of miles from me. Realizing that our relationship is not just professional but also personal was like taking a deep breath in allowing me to be all versions of me—mother, wife, neuropsychologist—with more welcome fluidity. And getting to know Dr. Shandera-Ochsner better has been fantastic! She’s so smart and enthusiastic and joyful. I appreciate her spirit and new ideas. Fun fact—Dr. Schandera-Ochsner and I graduated from the same graduate program—University of Kentucky, GO CATS! (although we did not go there at the same time).
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