some of my writings will overlap

In the spirit of I need to check in, be accountable, and continue writing, I am going to post my writing for my new course here in my blog. Yes, that’s right. I started a Master’s program on Monday. I am pursuing Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner degree. I am super nervous and excited about this.
I am grateful that I started this blog and got a little more comfortable with my discomfort in writing things down for others to see. It is not an easy process for me (maybe not for other writers either!) to put my thoughts down on paper but writing this blog with such frequency has taught me that I can do it. I can write. I have been told I am a pretty good writer. I have learned that even if I think that my writing is bullshit, it seems others like it and find value in it.


I have also learned that starting is probably the hardest thing for me to do. That if I stay in my head too long, my doubts will try to take over. I need to remember that because my classes are going to require a lot of writing.

  1. Just put it down
  2. Editing is my friend
  3. I have people that will gladly help me edit and revise my writing
  4. Use my tools and resources copiously
  5. Trust myself
  6. Let people help me
  7. Delegate
  8. Trust

That is my plan for success as I learn to maneuver another item on my plate. Now I happily proclaim I am a psych nurse, a mother, a festival producer, a community organizer, and a Master’s student. #findingthejuicy #lifeisfull #lifeisabundant #usemyresources #trustmyself #trustmyfriends #trust

Foundations for Graduate Study

My Vision and Mission

Dawn Smith

I am Dawn Smith.  I am currently working as program nurse for a campus of adult foster care homes for the mentally ill.  I have raised eight children and run several community organizations.  I have worked for the health department in a pediatric clinic and as a public health nurse.  I completed my degree as a registered nurse at a local community college.  I went on to get my Bachelor of Science in Nursing. It took an incredible amount of time, energy, and time management to manage multiple roles: student, mom, and nurse.  I was able to complete these goals by setting goals and creating a mission and vision for myself.  I learned that to complete any challenging task it is important to remember why I am doing what I am doing.  Several themes emerged while finding my vision and mission: I wanted to help people.  I specifically wanted to improve health outcomes of the low income and underserved.  I wanted to help create healthier communities by building healthier connections with us and with each other. I think that I will be able to get closer to my vision of creating change by following the visions, mission, and learning outcomes set forth by Walden University (2011, 2019)

Walden University is built on three values: quality, integrity, and student-centeredness (Vision, Mission, and Goals, 2011). I have found that by doing all of my activities with similar values working towards quality, integrity, and “patient”-centeredness, I have job satisfaction knowing that I am delivering a quality product that instills in me a sense of pride and living within my own integrity.

While researching various schools to continue my education, I wanted to be challenged but supported. I wanted a quality education that supported my vision of being a better nurse, person, communicator, and a person that creates change on a global level.  I feel I will be able to achieve my goals through Walden University because their learning outcomes are in alignment with my vision.  Learning outcome #3 is focused on finding and implementing strategies that will reduce disparity in healthcare (Master of Science in Nursing. 2018) and I have worked hard to serve the underserved.  I have been involved in facilitating Health Equity and Social Justice workshops and find that being able to help others understand the levels of health inequity is very satisfying.  When the new knowledge is taken back to workplaces and homes so there is less injustice and health disparity, small changes can cause a ripple effect.

 I also find the other learning outcomes of improving communication and using technology to advance and improve healthcare outcomes will be beneficial to me as a practitioner but also as a human. Communication is key to building connections (Robinson, Segal, & Smith, 2019).

Connections are important to me.  I have found personally that connections with other people improve health.   According to Dr. Emma Seppala (2014), being socially connected leads to a longer life, stronger immune system, reduced inflammation, and quicker healing from disease.  Walden encourages connections through networking, and networking creates connections that will benefit me personally and professionally (Wofford, 2018). I want to take networking with my peers and mentors and expand it.  By creating connections, I hope to help create change and I think Walden will be an excellent tool to help me achieve my goals.


Walden University. (2011) Vision, mission, and goals.  Retrieved September 23, 2019 from

Walden University. (2018) Master of Science in Nursing (MSN): Learning outcomes.  Retrieved September 20, 2019, from

Robinson, L., Segal, J., & Smith, M. (2019, June 26). Effective Communication. Retrieved from

Seppala, E. (2017, June 27). Connectedness & Health: The Science of Social Connection. Retrieved from

Wofford, P. (2018, May 24). 10 Networking Tips for Nurses Who Hate Networking. Retrieved from

How do you practice tough love?

I came home from a women’s festival. I just came home from a place where people try to smash the patriarchy. This is a place that eschews and fights against injustices against all people. From the Ohio Lesbian Festival 30th Anniversary program:











I was greeted in the morning by sisters in various states of déshabillé wandering through the festival to the smells of bacon, coffee, and sweet “good morning, sister”. I wandered in a space for the last three days where respect was beyond a requirement, it was an ingrained part of the being in that space. The women smiled at each other. I looked in the eyes of sisters while they spoke to me. I was fully present with the women at the festival. Each encounter was full of feeling and presence for me. I am thankful that I had that time to center myself with my sisters. They fed my soul, renewed my spirit and it seems it happened none too soon!

I came home to rude and belligerent texts from my 16 year old son.

He chose to move out of my home a month ago. He moved into my parents’ home next door. He moved in because he could not “tolerate” living with me. I don’t know what the horrible injustice or intolerance was that he could not endure. He never had a conversation with me about it. “I just can’t take it anymore”.

He said this to me after I continued to expect him to get a job. I also expected him to pay his insurance bill on the car, oh wait, the 2nd car that I bought for him, after he smashed the first car, twice. I asked him to pay for his phone bill too. Although I very graciously told him, that I wanted him to play sports and be involved in extracurricular activities and I would help him since he couldn’t work as many hours. The deal was that it would be his responsibility to do chores around the house (sweep, vacuum, clean kitchen, clean room, bathroom, mow the yard and not all of those on the same day!). It was an impossible task for him to do any of the chores. He then started being more and more rude, refusing to do anything around the house. Refusing to respond to me or talk to me. Refusing to get a job. Refusing to do anything. Then he started calling me a bitch. I continued to try to talk to him. I continued to try to get him to be more motivated. Nothing worked.

So he went to my parents. He went to my brother, his coach. He told them something. I don’t even know what he told them. It was enough for them to let him move in without a discussion with me. They never called me. They operated behind my back. They undermined me again. This is not the first time. I’m sure it won’t be the last time. It is the last time I will ever speak to them again. Because of their meddling and bad mouthing and their hate of their daughter or women or me because I’m a lesbian, I don’t really know. I know that it has been all of my children’s lives that my mother has interfered with my kids and undermined me. They have changed the trajectory of my relationship with my children. #bruisedbutnotbroken

My son sent me this text tonight:

I’ll be getting my money back one way or another. Don’t bother coming to my football games or anything, I don’t want anyone to have any misconceptions that you have anything positive to do with my life. I’ll only be having papa walk me out on senior night. Seeya bitch

angry teenage boy thinking he’s a man

I am not going to be bullied by the teenager. I am not going to pay the phone bill without a please and thank you. I am not going to let this boy-man push me around like his father used to. One of my biggest fears could be coming true right now. I tried really hard to not let my sons grow up to be abusive. I hope he’s just being teenage asshole but I don’t know and it’s still my job to set boundaries so he doesn’t hurt himself. And being an asshole to women will ultimately hurt him so he doesn’t get his way. I told him to stay away from me until he could learn manners. He moved out. He is not welcome at my home unless invited. That hurt to say but I also know that boundaries need to be set by someone. I can continue being “the bad mom” that doesn’t let him get away with bullshit behavior. Even if he doesn’t appreciate it right now. I hope he does someday.

I’m glad that I know myself and love myself. I’m glad that I love myself enough this time around to know that I don’t have to own his anger. I’m thankful that I love myself enough to know that I don’t deserve the rotten treatment from my parents and brothers. I’m thankful that I love myself enough to know that I don’t have to own and wallow in this hurt.

And it does hurt a lot. But I don’t have to stay here. I’m a good mother. I’m a good person. Even if I wasn’t, jaaysus. It’s not even fucking right that a 16 year old boy thinks it’s okay to say to someone to pay my bill now or I’m going to get my money somehow, seeya bitch.

Seriously, common courtesy, asshole.

I’m happy that I got time at festival this weekend. I thought I would get a chance to do some thinking, reflecting, meditating, and make some decisions about my future. I didn’t get a chance to think and reflect much so I am not ready to make decisions. Although my heart is hurting, I have to move forward. Tomorrow I start a new class, the first class in a master’s program!!! Tomorrow I start on a new path and so the time at festival was good foundation for the new beginnings. It will also fortify me for the decisions I will be making. I am thankful to see and feel choices. #freetobe #thankful #newbeginnings #psychnp21

I’m still finding the juicy. I’m still enough. I’m still happy to be right where I am and to be aware of right where I am.

When the women gather…

I”M HERE!! I’m at Ohio Lesbian Festival where all womyn identified can gather. I’m at a lesbian festival. I am surrounded by women. Women. WOMEN! WOMEN>

I see tents and tents and canopies and campers. There are tarps and suitcases. Banners and tapestries. Solar lights and pop ups. Coolers and ice. There are rugs and chairs and so many different varieties of tents. There are women here.

I already am starting to feel different. There are women here. They don’t even bother wearing clothes. It’s a safe space. There are women. Women. Women.

My camp is set up. It’s quite lovely with a dark room technology black out tent. I have a canopy. A lovely yellow canopy like a mishapen tweety bird graciously spreading her wings and protecting my little kitchen, den, living room, and possibly changing room. I have tables and chairs and a cook stove and coolers and rugs. It’s quite homey. It should be; we brought everything. #glamping #olf19

It’s hard to describe the energy shift that happens when you separate yourself from men and live ina tent. In a field or in a pine tree forest. On the coast (either one!) or in the mountains. The energy changes when women gather in a separate space from the rest of the world (let’s be real, from men!) It’s beautiful and energizing. We are validated and see and can breathe.

We release that tight hold we have on ourselves. We breathe easier. We shed some clothes. We shed some armor. We shed the walls and the fears that we put up and maintain while in the rest of the world.

We dress up or undress. We fuck. We laugh. We drink. We don’t drink. We shop. We be women. We are warriors and witches. We are maidens, mothers, and crones. We are fearless and willing to be something different.

We are seen so we see.

I’m so fucking happy to be here.

We (my co-producer and I) weren’t planning on coming to Ohio Lesbian Festival. Then we decided to come. We thought it would be good to enjoy a festival without the pressure of producing a festival. We greatly enjoy our festival but it’s a different way to enjoy the festival.

Each festival has its own energy. It also is a different experience for each person that is there whether as a worker, crew, organizer, producer, or festie. Each person has a unique experience but also a common experience.

I’m thankful for the womyn that make Ohio Lesbian Festival possible. Thank you

Pictures will be updated soon! Stay tuned.

Keep it juicy. Support women’s spaces. I am so happy. Be happy.

Thankful as fuck to be here.

New adventures in loving myself

What does loving myself really mean?

I am not sure that I remember what it means to truly love myself all of the time.  I enjoy pedicures and they are a form of loving myself but it is very superficial.  I like shopping.  Scratch that. I don’t like shopping but sometimes I like to buy stuff.  That, too, is a form of self-love since I am taking care of my life when I buy a new Dyson, mattress, kayak, or circular saw (yes, I bought all of those things in the past three months). 

It has been almost a year since I did my first challenge.  It was a (me) Fall in Love with me Challenge.  I have learned a lot.  I have grown a lot.  I have said the words of self-love to myself and to others.  I have expounded on the benefits of forced physical activity (forcing myself when I didn’t feel like it) for myself as a form of self-love. Physical activity is a form of self-love because it helped me to feel more comfortable and confident in my body.  Regardless of the pounds, the size of my pants, or the stretch marks on my body, I could love myself because through movement I found strength in my thighs.  Through movement, I learned to love my belly.  The stretch marks were hard won through 8 pregnancies.  Through strength training with weights, I learned to love my biceps and my shoulders for their strength and longevity during physical challenges.

I also worked on training my mind.  I started listening to positive affirmations.  I started speaking positive affirmation.  I started doing kundalini yoga to move and change the energy in my mind and body.  I listened to motivational speakers.  I listened to transformational speakers.  I listened to self- help coaches.  I listened until my brain felt like it was going to explode.

Listening does not mean automatic implementation.  I listened to so many wonderful things:  advice on behaviors, words of wisdom for being a better leader, speaker, friend, and lover; how to meditate, how to listen, motivational words, inspirational words.  I listened during the day and I listened throughout my sleep.  I learned to remind myself that “I am enough” and how to do mirror work (look myself in the mirror and saying my name, tell myself 7 reasons why I forgive myself and 7 ways in which I am proud of myself). 

Listening is not enough. Listening is the first step.  Maybe being willing to listen is the first step in my journey to self-love.  Being willing to listen radically without judgment, defense, justification, or preparing an answer was a good place to start.  Listening to others teach me but also listen to others as they communicate with me.  #radicallistening 

Listening is not and will not ever be enough to stimulate change in me if it is not followed by radical action.  I needed to put some or all of it into action.  I started meditating.  I started questioning my own story.  I started stopping myself from reacting in fear and hurt.  Of course, this is a PRACTICE and I did none of it perfectly.  The baby steps of change were happening.  I committed to daily meditation and daily physical activity.  I practiced daily energy cleansing.  I practiced questioning my beliefs and my motives.  I practiced questioning if my impact was aligned with my intention and if not, why not. I practiced listening without judgment, defense, or justification.  I practiced all of the things I was being taught.

 I started loving myself.  My body was changing.  My mind was changing.  My spirit was changing.  It was and is a process.  I am not perfect but I do love myself now.  I love my spirit. I love my body. I love my integrity.  I love my wit.  I love my intellect.  I love my drive.  I love my motivation.  I love myself.  Not only is this something I say to myself.  It is something that I feel when I make tough decisions that protect my spirit.  It is something I feel when I set boundaries. These are not always comfortable.  I practice living by the four agreements. 


Now I have the courage to take some more chances. I am preparing myself mentally and emotionally for a big change. I know I can do it because whatever I try will be a win regardless of the outcome because I tried. STay tuned!

#findingthejuicy #lovingmehard #loveme #mefallinlovewithme

Open Mic at Creston Vibes

Last night, I went to Creston Brewery for open mic and dinner. It was in a lovely neighborhood. Parking was a breeze (I forgot to mention how horrible it was to try to find parking when I went to Stella’s Lounge the other night. It’s a thing.) I was able to park on the street right in front of the brewery. There were a lot of other options on the side street.

The brewery was much nicer than any other brewery I have been to before. The beer selection was good, too. I chose a blueberry brew. It was slightly sweet but not cloying or overwhelming. I enjoyed it a lot!

One complaint I have about open mics is that they never start on time. For most people that might not be a problem. I understand that the host is waiting for more people to show up. They are waiting for more people to sign up. But for those of us that work at 7am in the morning, it’s a challenge to stay for the whole open mic when it doesn’t get started until 930pm. Yes, I am that person that wants to be settled and tucked into my home by 9pm! #doingsomethingdifferent #newlife #notold

The first poet was incredibly talented. She spit out the poem lamenting the treatment of women in this patriarchal world. Her words were rapid fire and on point. She was incredibly talented and fun to listen to. She was invited to come back…and to rap. I was blessed to hear her.

The hosts of Creston Vibes Open Mic were Kyd Kane and Bri (???). Bri went to MSU so she had jokes about burning couches. As a local, I can appreciate the humor in that. Kyd seems to be from Chicago. Both lesbians. #lesbianseverywhere Although, I suspect they might identify as queer. They were both very funny and had great energy between them. They both also spoke one of their poems. They talked more than the hosts at The Drunken Retort but they were entertaining and the crowd and sign up was smaller so that made sense.

Before the hosts had started talking, I did something. I decided to take the next logical (fuck logic) step in pursuing my speaking career: I signed up for the open mic. The theme was “Intoxication”. I wasn’t sure what I was going to talk about but I was going to tell a story.

Then I started kind of freaking out. But then when the hosts got up to talk, they told a story about what the rules are for Creston Vibes (love and peace: PEACE and LOVE, it’s a #crestonvibething) talk about whatever you want. When someone says “peace and love”, you respond with “LOVE AND PEACE”. They told the story about how one week the theme was boogers and a woman got up and told the story that she ATE HER BOOGERS.

Either way, I realized that whatever I said would be okay. Whatever i said might be better than someone else. Regardless, I would be doing something different. I would be pursuing my dream. I would be taking steps to my next life! #findingthejuicy #livingmybestlife #prepping4newlife

I got up there. I was part of the open mic which had the extra bonus of getting me a discounted $1 pint of the beer of my choice (YAY Blueberry splash!). I thought it would take forever to get to my name on the list. Then she looked at me and said, “Dawn?” I know my eyes got huge as she asked me, ” are you ready”?

I told a story. I told a story about my daughter being intoxicated and calling me out about some texts between me and a woman. I told the story about coming out to my 8 kids 8 years ago because my daughter got drunk enough to confront me about some texts that her sister had seen. I was funny. I was engaging. I could have talked longer but I didn’t know!

So yeah. I did it. I’m going to do it again. And again and again and again. Until all of my dreams come true. #keepworking #lovemylife #lovingmehard

Creston Vibes gets 5 juices for the following reasons:

  1. relaxing vibes
  2. 4 lesbians performed (5 including me!)
  3. the deviled eggs were amazing
  4. the beer was amazing
  5. ample seating
  6. ample parking
  7. safe enough space that I GOT UP to speak!

Maybe you will join me next week!

Creston Brewery1504 Plainfield Ave NE, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49505

Music in the City by the River: Grand Rapids Live

I have been trying to do different things with my time and energy. My life has started again and I am hoping to take the good from my old life and bring that forward. I want to leave the bad parts of my last life behind. #thankful49lives #findingthejuicy

In my old life, I would “relax” by working on the computer and binge watching netflix or prime. Not a bad thing, necessarily. But it’s not conducive to me doing things differently. I want to find local talent for MFR so I have committed to going to at least one open mic a week.

If I wasn’t working in Grand Rapids, it would be hard to go to an open mic every week. Lansing does not offer that much selection. Grand Rapids, though! There is an open mic every night of the week in the City by the River, Grand Rapids.

I want to offer a review or a discussion of each of the open mics that I attend in the next couple months. Not only with this help me work on my writing (and hopefully, get better at it!) It will also give me a topic to discuss and enjoy and find the juicy in.

I stole the title of this blog from one of the performers at last night’s open mic and Poetry Slam Competition at Stella’s Lounge.

Every Monday night, Stella’s Lounge and The Drunken Retort host an open mic. Every other week, it is also a Poetry Slam competition. #supercool

The hosts were Rachel Gleason and Fable the Poet. Rachel was a sexy butch woman, although, I suspect she would identify as queer. Either way, she was funny as hell, had some excellent tattoos, soul reaching poems, biting wit, and a great spirit. Her poem was “I wanted to write a love letter to the City by the River”, or something like that. It was wonderful.

Fable the Poet was a fierce and fabulous man that spoke a poem about being a black man in Grand Rapids. It was raw. It was hard to hear (as a white woman). It inspired me to want to do more, better, fight harder, make the injustices more visible. Because maybe I can because I am a white woman with a little bit of privilege. I wanted to say, but not me. That’s not me. But he had more to say. He finished with…if you don’t say something, it is YOU. He said it much more eloquently. He was profound and compelling. #fire #spittruth #blacklivesmatter

Check out The Drunken Retort, open mic/poetry slam here and maybe you can join me next time? I might even perform…YIKES!

I love going to open mics. I have now gone to several different opens mics at a variety of venues. Each one has a different flavor, a different energy. This particular open mic/slam was loud. The hosts were a little profane (my favorite kind!). They were brash. They were loud. They were queer friendly (obvi). They were woke. They were real. They told us that we were NOT required to listen to awful performers. We were given small cow bells. the instructions were this: If someone is performing that you don’t like, you can ring the cowbell. If the performer gets 3 rings, jingle, jingle, jingle your way off the stage.

It happened that someone sucked. There was one ring. There was two rings. There was three rings.

It felt a little harsh. But is that my internal message of always needing to please others even when they do not deserve the accolades or the applause. Honesty is okay. Honesty works for me. I appreciated the honesty and the fact that we did not have to sit through anymore of that rotten music.

I highly recommend going to the Drunken Retort open mic/slam and Stella’s Lounge (great burgers!!!). The hosts of Drunken Retort were wonderful and perform at other venues and are worth seeing. The open mic had a great vibe. It was fun and engaging. It is important to get there early if you want to have a seat, seating is limited.

I will rate the open mics with a juicy factor. The highest rating is 5 juices. I give The Drunken Retort at Stella’s Lounge 4 juices on the basis of

  1. entertaining & engaging hosts
  2. good food at the location
  3. good rules
  4. interactive audience
  5. only two women performers

Tonight (since I am late in getting this blog out), I will be at Creston’s Brewery for another open mic. Stay tuned!