Meet Shugri Salh. She is an accomplished multi-careerist who thrives in her two chosen professions. She is a registered nurse who serves those in her community. At the same time, she is an author whose forthcoming book The Last Nomad will be published by Algonquin Books in August 2021. It’s a fascinating memoir, in which she shares about her upbringing and salient life moments. You’ll indeed find her commentary below both instructional and inspirational.
- Registered Nurse
- Storyteller / Author
On Shugri has multiple careers
“I didn’t plan on having multiple careers. I was driven to tell the unusual story of my family and my upbringing and write it down as a legacy for my children. That is how the storyteller in me became an author. I’ve had a curious mind ever since I was a child roaming the Somali desert, and that curiosity is the basis for both of my careers. As a nurse I am curious about my patients’ medical stories, and as an author I am curious about my characters and their histories. That is the beauty of a curious mind – it can take you anywhere.”
On how long she’s had her careers
“I have been a nurse for fourteen years, but a nurturer all my life. I was the kid who always took care of sick friends, siblings or animals. About six years ago I began taking my writing career seriously.”
Advice to aspiring multi-careerists
“Let go of fear and follow your dreams. I was the kind of person who would score over 90 percent on chemistry tests, but writing was actually hard for me, especially since English is my second language. I have improved greatly, but it’s not as easy as I would like it to be. But I learned to listen to the poet and storyteller in me, screaming to be let out and weave their story into words. It is true when they say, ‘There is no fear without courage.’ Take a chance with life.”
On overcoming obstacles
“I went from living as a nomad in the Somali desert to living in an orphanage in a big city, then fled a civil war, survived refugee camps, navigated life as a immigrant to the western world, learned a new language and a new culture. I think my early life as a nomad taught me resilience and courage, and coupled with my innate curiosity and openness helped me create connections with other people, which helped me to survive tough situations. When I lost most of my hearing in one ear due to a botched surgery, I didn’t feel sorry for myself. I just put on my hearing aid, despite being young, and got myself an amplifying stethoscope so I could continue to do my job.”
When I lost most of my hearing in one ear due to a botched surgery, I didn’t feel sorry for myself.
On how multiple careers are mutually beneficial
“I don’t have any fear about my careers. If I am having difficulty with one, I always have the other. There’s a freedom to that. My careers compliment each other well. If I have a bad day as a nurse, I can write about it. And both careers feed my soul and create human connections. Sometimes my patients ask about my life and request more stories every time I see them. I love the idea of traveling as an author, talking to people from different cultures and collecting more stories.”
On managing personal time
“My kids are older now, and my youngest is more independent than either of her older siblings. We all try to help each other and we designate time to spend together. This allows me to take my hikes, write short stories and cook big meals for my family. We are not perfect; we do the best we can under the craziness of COVID-19, California fires and my irregular nursing schedule.”
On something she wished she learned earlier
“I wish I had known the freedom that comes with it. My husband and I are talking about moving abroad, which is something that we would not have considered back when I was working only as a nurse. But as an author, I can work any corner in the world. I feel good about that and it makes my heart smile.”
On overcoming the stigma of having multiple careers
“Not really. If anything, people are impressed and encouraging. I am proud and happy to be able to have two careers, and when I speak to people they seem to catch my positive energy and excitement. I talk to everyone I meet and share my story with such enthusiasm that I am met with positive interest and curiosity. My advice is: Never chase money, but rather pursue a career that fulfills you.”
On what to share with others
“I share it when it feels right to do so. I recently shared my upcoming memoir with my Director of Nursing. We were chatting about our upbringings and I felt we had a connection and the moment was right. Now she wants to get my book and was inspired to write her own book. The most important thing is to be transparent and be yourself. And if you have a dream, share it with the world. Be proud and get it out there.”
A Day in the Life
“I typically wake up around 7 am and take a few minutes to just breathe and center myself. I make sure my youngest is up and getting ready for school.
I get ready for work and grab a chai latte on my way. I currently work as a home infusion nurse, so I drive to my patients’ houses and provide their treatment.
After work, I do my exercises or go for a hike. I take some time to write and edit, and then after dinner I watch the news with my family. I do a lot of my writing in the evenings or on the weekends. Sometimes I write when I get in bed, or make phone calls about my next book.
On the weekends, my friend and I get together, talk about our families and lives and then she helps me edit my writing. My family and I also make brunch together and sit and read or write. My oldest daughter has been writing as well, so we often sit together and write.”
Where to find Shugri
- Instagram, Facebook
- The Last Nomad – will be published in August 2021 by Algonquin Books. Pre-order today! “When Shugri Said Salh was six years old, she was sent to live with her nomadic grandmother in the desert, away from the city of Galkayo. Leaving behind her house, her parents, her father’s multiple wives, and her many siblings, she would become the last of her family to learn a once-common way of life.”
Kabir Sehgal is a Multi Grammy & Latin Grammy Award winner, as well as New York Times bestselling author of fifteen books. His debut feature film production Fandango at the Wall is streaming on HBO Max. Follow: LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Spotify, YouTube