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(ep 15) What gives you joy? A conversation on rebounding and the love of travel with Dawn Kelly

Updated: Jan 15, 2021

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What gives you joy? How do you find joy? What helps you feel better? How can I get through my depression? What do I need to do to feel happy? What makes you happy? Why am I depressed? What can help ease my stress? Can travel make me feel better? How can faith in God help me? Will having faith help improve my mood? Will taking a trip help? What do I need to do to get out of this slump? Will I feel better after going on vacation?

This podcast interview is with the very joyful and happy Dawn Kelly. She is a world traveler, mom, mentor, publicist, and owner of an amazing smoothie shop The Nourish Spot in Jamaica, Queens, New York. In this episode of the Collective Drift podcast, Dawn tells us about how she’s been able to overcome difficult situations; her trips to Cape Town, South Africa and Phuket, Thailand; and her relationship with her daughter Jade. I especially love how Dawn’s love of international travel has inspired her daughter’s career and love of travel. Dawn even brings back international recipes to The Nourish Spot. Dawn is at a minimum resilient. Listen to this episode of Collective Drift to learn Dawn’s blueprint for getting through a dark time in your life because she has definitely succeeded and continues to succeed. Her energy is contagious so watch out!

Collective Drift is taking up AARP's challenge to reinvent what it means to age. Remember, what you do after 50 can be just as amazing as what you've done before 30. It's time to disrupt aging. This is the second of 3 episodes in partnership with AARP highlighting amazing women from around the world who have disrupted aging. Go to to learn more.

Here are a few of my favorite parts of the interview:

Collective Drift (CD) / Dawn Kelly (DK)

CD: You’re 58, but you feel like you’re 12 years old. Tell us more about that?

DK: I'm still a kid at heart. I'm still full of wonder and curiosity. I'm still full of joy. I love to laugh. I love to play, I love to hug. Although we can't hug during COVID. I like to explore and learn different things. So you know, I've heard ages just a number. And I believe that the way I live, my life showcases that that is actually true. It's how you feel? Not what number characterizes your age?

CD: How are you embodying that?

DK: I like to have fun. I’ve traveled the world. Before COVID, I was always in some foreign distant land. I love to learn. So I'm always engaged in some kind of learning program. And I actually learned that at AARP; AARP taught us that learning is a lifelong journey. I started working at AARP, when I was 23 years old, I believe. I was still young and naive about a lot of things. I'm really glad that my first real job was working for an organization that was dedicated to the advocacy of issues around older Americans. Because you know what? I learned all of that stuff then, and that I can use now.

CD: What prompted you to open the Nourish Spot?

DK: I was working for a fortune 100 company, Prudential Financial, for nearly 16 years. But on September 9 2015, unfortunately, I got the news that my job was being eliminated. And I left the building that day, pretty much destroyed. Because I'm an overachiever, I should have said that earlier. I arrived at Howard University when I was 16 years old. I'm the eldest in my family. So you know, I'm just used to doing things first. And I'm used to smashing goals. And that day, when they told me that my role was eliminated, I tell you, I felt like a failure. Like I had done something wrong, I had to come home, and I had to grieve over the loss of the position. And I had to, you know, realize that, in fact, I hadn't lost anything, I hadn't done anything wrong. God had a bigger plan for me. And that plan was to be an entrepreneur. And so two years to the date of that job elimination, I flung open the doors to the nourish spot.

CD: What do you do for self care?

DK: I read my bible; I have a meditation journal; I also reach out to my mom, my sister and my daughter. My daughter is a woman now. So these are people that I lean on in addition to my lifelong friends. I have friends from the second grade.We didn't talk about this, but I also collect people. You know how people collect things? I collect people. I love to be engaged with people, talk and debate, just play games, and things of that nature. I also like to take baths. I love to listen to music, that is my biggest stress reliever. I will turn on the music and I will dance around by myself. I don't need anybody with me. It's just me by myself and I'm happy. I sleep a lot so that's the other thing. I'm one of those people I love to sleep, I will get in my PJs and under my covers in a second.

CD: What was your most impactful travel experience?

DK: All my life growing up I always clicked my tongue. And no one knew why. It was just something that I did. When I got to South Africa and my daughter and I were talking to the receptionist, she started talking to me and the whole time she's talking to me she's clicking her tongue! I couldn't even talk to her. I said, “Oh my God, what are you doing? What are you doing? Why are you doing that?” And she said to me, “that's what we do. That's the Xhosa language. And so, I've got to tell you that right then and there, I realized that that has to be where my people are from. Because no one, not my mother nor My dad, could tell me why I did that. No one. Listening to them, watching them, I realized that pretty much I had come home.

CD: What was your favorite part of your trip to Cape Town, South Africa?

DK: Seeing these animals in their natural habitat, it was just extraordinary! Seeing the elephants kind of fighting each other. We had some wildebeest following our Jeep. They wanted to ram the Jeep. And seeing the hippopotamus in their element. It just was amazing. It was amazing! We had the chance a couple of times to get off the jeep. And one time we were in the middle of zebras racing, but they went past us. I mean, it just was out of this world. Extraordinary! And I really hope that one day I get to go back.

CD: What is it like traveling with your daughter?

DK: It's the best! I’ve pretty much always traveled with my children. And now that my daughter is an adult, I believe that I have rubbed off on her because she's seen more of the world and I have. For college, she went to Johnson and Wales and now she's a chef by trade. When she was about to get her associates degree, she decided that she wanted to go to work. She got a job working for a cruise line. And not just any cruise line. She got a job working for a cruise line called Silver Seas, which only does world routes. Well, my daughter has been to far more places than I've ever been, which I think is exemplary. It makes me think, I may have done a little bit right with my life.

CD: So, what is a question Dawn would ask other women?

DK: What gives you joy? And how do you maintain that feeling?

CD: What is a woman?

DK: A warrior, a woman is a fearless warrior.

Where to find Erica and Collective Drift

Where to find Dawn

Where to find The Nourish Spot

The Nourish Spot, 107-05 Guy R Brewer Blvd, Jamaica, NY

Places mentioned in the interview

Cape Town, South Africa

Click HERE to make sure that you get our upcoming episodes!

The Collective Drift platform was created by Erica Knowles to celebrate all women, the beauty of their cultures, and international travel experiences. I believe that women possess magic, that gives them strength and grace to change the world. We learn how to tap into our power in various ways based on our cultural backgrounds and our journeys. Join me and an amazing collective of multicultural, multiethnic, and multigenerational women that are artists, cultural leaders and travel enthusiasts as they tell their stories about their culture, their tribe of women, their passions, their art, and their favorite international experiences. Welcome to Collective Drift.

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