Gratitude for My Child Life Community

Gratitude in Child Life Community

In the past two days, I have been reflecting on my experience at the Child Life Council Conference. Weeks prior, I was filled with anticipation and anxiety to nail a panel presentation on child life specialists in community-based programs and a half-day intensive on the child-centered play. I was teamed up with some amazing co-presenters, Deb Vilas, Kristin Diezel and Mary Welker who have contagious energy on making a positive impact on the child life profession. I caught that bug and was along for the ride.

Our collaborative efforts created a unique, informative and entertaining presentation for our attendees. Once we started, there was an instant connection between the speaker and audience that helped to ease our nerves as we spoke from our hearts. We knew we rocked it!

I was also so humbled by the students and specialists that introduced themselves and said they were Child Life Mommy followers. I have to say it was a bit funny to enter a Disney bus and hear someone shout out, “Hi, Child Life Mommy!” or shyly confess, “It’s like meeting a celebrity.” Ha! My ego was a bit boosted, but I came down to reality as I had to chase my kids in the lobby or prevent them from slaying strangers with their Star Wars lightsabers.

I truly appreciated meeting the new faces and connecting with specialists all over the world. We have such a unique profession, filled with compassionate hearts and a drive to make a difference in the world.

Thank you to the volunteers, FACLP and CLC committees for making such an amazing conference this year. I am beyond proud of being  CCLS and part of the Association of Child Life Professionals!

See you next year in Vegas!

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What a Child Wishes For When They Have a Sick Parent

What a child wishes for when they have a sick parent

When I was a little girl, I looked up at the sky every night to search for the brightest star. When I found it, I closed my eyes tight and made the same wish in my head, “Find a cure for my mom.”

I vividly remember repeating it as fast as I could when there was a shooting star, as I believed they had more power in granting wishes.

I never wished for a Barbie doll, a pet or a trip to Disneyland. I just wanted Behcet’s Disease to leave my mom’s body and our family.

This rare, incurable, autoimmune illness had incredible power over us and I wanted to destroy it with my wishful thinking.

As you can guess, it never came true.

However, other unexpected wishes did.

Resiliency, Empathy and Hope.

These aren’t your typical wishes, but they serve a purpose in my life. They guided me through my childhood into adulthood, viewing things with a different perspective.

I remember how angry I would get when I heard peers making fun of someone due to their appearance or struggle with a task. I could feel the pain from the insults and I would speak up. They needed to be aware of an invisible disease.

I wanted people to feel included and accepted as they are.

Often times, I played a care-taking role, retrieving ice packs, medication and a thermometer for my mom. The flare-ups were harsh and restricted her to a dark bedroom while waiting in agony for the pain to diminish.

Those were nights that I searched for a shooting star.

I became very comfortable in a hospital setting and I loved to rummage through their storage cabinets and take whatever I was allowed to, ID bracelets, basins, gauze, tape and of course a gown. I would bring it home and play doctor, foreshadow to my career.

These unexpected wishes have fueled my passion in working with others. I understand how an illness impacts the whole family, as it is never an individualized disease. I know there are always setbacks with an additional diagnosis, complications, and waiting for an FDA approved treatment. I know that people living with chronic illness don’t want to have a pity party or talk about their health, they just want to live a normal life, even though their normal is a bit different. I have a genuine admiration for my mom and other’s that struggle with life’s challenges and still find the courage to push forward.

I’m now 35 and still making wishes.

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Stuck in the Storm

The blizzard has finally hit New York and I’m holding down the fort with my two boys. It’s only 2pm and our day has already been filled with shoveling, playing Minecraft, pretending to be horses, baking brownies, igloo making, snowball fights, crying, more shoveling, stickers, movie watching, dance parties, cooking, whining, dart throwing, Lego building and more shoveling, crying and whining.

Who can relate?