Walking Miles in Sensible Shoes: A Nurse Looks Back at Her Vocation by Norma Fay Nicholson is a short memoir by a retired registered nurse from Mississauga. Nicholson triumphs over adversity from her early years of “abject poverty and horrific abuses” to become successful as a registered practical nurse, then a registered nurse, and then a manager and educator in a number of diverse environments. Sensible Shoes is a small format book of only 125 pages. It is a story of inspiration from beginning to end, yet reads like a LinkedIn page. I would have liked to read more about Nicholson’s childhood, which she alludes to in only a single sentence but never dwells upon. Painful though it may be to write about such horrific abuses, without an elaboration the claim seems empty.
Nicholson is a well-grounded woman guided by faith. I was most touched by Nicholson’s calm manner in dealing with the daily stresses of working as a nurse. This cannot be an easy job. It is no wonder that she was an educator very much in demand, working at hospitals developing new programs, and then with Alzheimer’s patients and their families and later with youths living in shelters. Nicholson herself knew the value of education and strove to instil this value in others. As a lifelong learner, she enrolled in new courses and accepted new jobs, and always kept a positive attitude.
Nicholson is compassionate with everyone she works with, especially youth who may be coping with disadvantages caused by poverty, addictions, abuse or mental illness. I liked her off-hand remark about the constant connectedness of many of her young clients:
“In the age of technology, it is amazing how many youth are homeless but do have their cell phones fully charged.”
Sensible Shoes is a quick read written by a valued contributor and volunteer to our community. Nicholson is an inspiration to us all to constantly strive to educate ourselves and apply what we learn to the common good.