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Following My Intuition: My Love Story and Discovery of Child Life


Have you ever had a gut feeling that something was going to drastically change in your life or you were seeking to fulfill something deeper? This feeling resonated with me 11 years ago and forever changed me.

I was a recent college grad, working as a recreation therapist assistant at a local children’s hospital in San Diego, California. I provided therapeutic activities and support to our long term pediatric patients and their families. It was an amazing position, but once I started, I knew that there was just something else that I was supposed to do. I started taking on different tasks, asking questions of my fellow team member’s positions and did lots of research at home. OT, PT, SLP, nursing, social work, nothing seemed to connect with me.

Life’s Journey Down Under

For a graduation present to myself, I planned a three week trip with my best friend to Australia. We booked with a global tour group, Contiki to travel with 40 other people on a bus from Sydney to Cairns. The road trip would last 2 weeks stopping at different cities along the way to experience Australia’s most adventurous excursions.

There was so much excitement leading to the trip. We wrote out a must do list that included bungee jumping, white water rafting, sky diving, surfing and of course cuddling a koala. I didn’t really know what to expect, but I was putting all my positive vibes out there. I had this repetitive feeling that this trip was supposed to tell me what I was supposed to do with my life. I clearly remember saying it out loud to my friends, who just smiled and agreed with my silliness.

A Match for the Sheila

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Our trip began and we were having the time of our lives. Meeting people from across the globe and experiencing everything and more from our list. We went to a crocodile farm, played a didgeridoo, hung out with kangaroos, and drank snakebite. Every morning on the bus ride to the next town, the group would share stories from the night before. We were crying from laughter. These weren’t just strangers anymore, they were friends.

One of those friendships stood out amongst the others, his name was Greg. He was 29-year-old cop from New York, who was on the trip with three of his buddies. Something between us clicked and we began to open up about our lives. Greg wasn’t anyone that I would ever imagine dating. He was older, lived in New York and was a cop, his life was established and mine was just beginning. So how would that ever work out?

Well it did.

As soon as the trip ended and we headed home, my heart was filled with such an emptiness. I thought it would go away, but it just got stronger. Greg and I met up two weeks after the trip in Las Vegas. I fell in love and knew that I would eventually marry him.

Ding! Ding! It’s Child Life 

I was back to work and on cloud nine from my smitten feelings of love. Greg and I had planned monthly trips to see one another to continue our relationship. I also was still in that phase of trying to figure out my next step for a career change, when a patient of ours was referred to child life for an upcoming surgery. Something sparked my interest when I heard the name child life specialist.

That night I discovered the Child Life Council and learned all about a child life specialist.  Everything I was reading was resonating within me. This is it! This is what I am supposed to be doing!

There was a section on schools that offer child life programs. The one that stood out was Bank Street College of Education in New York. Coincidence, I don’t think so.

Flip Flops to Snow Boots


Within a year of the trip, I had moved back to my home town in Northern California. I wanted to save money, apply to Bank Street and have my family get to know Greg when he visited. It was incredibly challenging at times. My friends and family were very protective and didn’t want me to move across the country for a guy that I was dating.

I understood where they were coming from, but it never wavered my feelings. I didn’t have any reservations that this wouldn’t work. I knew my gut feelings were leading me in the right path for happiness in a relationship and career.

The Stars Were Aligned


Two years later, I was giving the commencement speech at Bank Street. I was married and looking forward to working in the field and starting a family with the love of my life. I think my gut feelings were more of an intuition.

Have you had a similar experience?

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