Thursday, July 18, 2013

When It Hit Me

Like most things in life, we don't realize they're happening until we look back. I went through the motions of orientation, physicals, and driving to work my first week, without feeling as if I had just gotten the job of my dreams. It still felt surreal that after a long year of hard work and determination, I was finally an adult in the real world.

It didn't hit me until I got a call saying there was something for me at the desk. I was nervous and walked with anxious excitement. I'd never received anything at work, and it was my first week there, I didn't know what it could be, but I was hoping it'd be from Sal. I should have known that I didn't need to hope, that he'd always be there supporting me, cheering me on. A beautiful bouquet of flowers were waiting for me with a tiny card. I immediately smiled as everyone raved how gorgeous they were and how lucky I was, inquiring who they were from. I blushed and told them they were from my boyfriend, even though boyfriend sounds so weak compared to what he has come to mean to me - my best friend, other half, love of my life.

I walked back to the office, never taking the smile off of my face. The name on the card made me finally realize I had made it. Kristyn - Employee - Child Life Specialist. While the sentiments inside the card were sweet, the outside of the card made it real. I will never forget the way those flowers made me felt, and of course I can't ever forget who made me feel on top of the world.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

I'm a Child Life Specialist

Part of the reason I stopped writing was because life just got too busy. I graduated May of 2012 and since then had been applying to every hospital in a 1-2 hour driving range. I was determined to get a job doing something with the degree I had graduated with, and the certificate I had earned. It was until May of 2013 when I finally received the phone call that I had been waiting for. I was offered a job at an incredible children's hospital as their new CCLS, or Certified Child Life Specialist, on the pediatric floor. I was beyond excited to have gotten my dream job. Prior to graduation though, I hadn't even known that this was my dream. I was getting my degree to teach, until I realized I didn't want to be a teacher anymore, I wanted to help children in more ways than a teacher. I wanted to use psychology more often than the curriculum. So I began searching online for other careers, and that's when I made the switch to psychology, and then eventually child life. While my boyfriend made fun of me for constantly changing majors and being as indecisive with this as I am when it comes to picking out what I want for dinner. It becomes real though when you're in college, and you need to make sure you're getting the most out of your time there, doing something you can see yourself doing for the rest of your life.

Becoming a child life specialist wasn't easy - I had to volunteer, complete specific courses, and then complete an internship. After graduating, I learned that getting a job wouldn't be any easier either, but I was determined, and when I'm determined, nothing and no one can stop me. I went into each interview with confidence and my knowledge and experience to back me up. I wasn't worried when I went on interviews and didn't get calls back though, because I knew those jobs hadn't been meant for me then. I was content and persevered. Meanwhile, I focused on my health and fitness, which only made me that much more confident when I headed in for interviews.

When I finally did get that call I was ecstatic and knew that all of my hard work had finally paid off. Here I am two months later, and I still go into work with a smile on my face every day. Of course, I come across challenging days, but I work past them with the support of my incredible coworkers and my family, boyfriend, and friends. The only constant challenge I've come across almost every day is explaining what is is that I do. Child life is not a widely known profession, as there are only, roughly, 5,000 of us out there right now. We can be found in hospitals, mainly, but we've also found our way into dentist and doctor's  offices, funeral homes, and even military hospitals, just to name a few. We are there to help children understand what's happening to them or those around them in a developmentally appropriate way. Specifically for me in the hospital, I make sure the hospital is a more child-friendly environment, with the help of education, therapeutic interventions, and, of course, play. I provide normalizing activities for children in the playroom, educate them about their diagnosis or an upcoming procedure, and distract them during those medical procedures. I am also there to listen to the families of the patient's and provide them with some type of comfort. I'm always learning new ways to help children, but I've learned that even if a child cries, it's OKAY. It doesn't mean that my intervention didn't help, it just means that the child is expressing him/herself in a more than appropriate way. Children are scared when they enter the hospital, I'm there to make it a little less frightening.

Once I tell people that, they always look sad, and ask me how I deal with working with sick children all the time... but I promise you it's so much more rewarding, and honestly, you can't even tell some of these kids are sick, especially when they see the playroom! They're just kids when I look at them, just kids that want to play.

Friday, July 12, 2013


I never thought I'd stop writing, but I did. It became easy to push my feelings aside, save the pictures to my computer, and hope that when I looked at them in the weeks or months to come, that I'd remember exactly how I felt and be able to write about the experiences, travels, and events that happened in my life exactly as they had occurred. It just doesn't work that way though, and I've realized that I missed writing, I missed documenting these important days of my life, my life with my boyfriend Salvatore, my family, myself. Thankfully, after collaborating with my friend Ardiana, at Paper Love Stationary, we were able to come up with designs and hopes for a new blog, a fresh start. 

That's when Twelve17. Love Notes & Travels was born. Twelve17 - the date Salvatore asked me to be his girlfriend (almost 6 years ago). Love Notes & Travels - our life in a nutshell. This is where I hope to share the raw and the beautiful events that occur in my life, whether it's traveling to different states and countries with Sal, holidays with the family, or heart-wrenching stories from work. I want to be able to look back on this blog and read all about my life, my thoughts, and my feelings. I don't ever want to forget a moment, and why should I? It's life and it's real, and it's happening right now. Small moments can turn into big memories, and I want to be able to remember it all