A little reminder to hold as intention as I enter the week:

“A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play; his labor and his leisure; his mind and his body; his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing, and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself, he always appears to be doing both.”
― L. P. Jacks


Bo’s Place: Grief Support Volunteer

heart and hands

heart and hands

When I completed my child life internship I knew that it might take some time for me to find a child life position. My husband and I took turns pursuing our graduate education and so my job search was limited to Houston and nearby communities if we wanted to be able to live in the same city. I started searching for ways to continue learning about psychosocial care and build on the skills I gained during internship.  I learned about Bo’s Place, Houston’s non-profit grief support center, from another child life specialist.  I decided to train as a volunteer and it was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my professional journey.

What started out as an attempt to deepen my understanding of grief and bereavement became so much more.  I’ve volunteered for years now and plan on continuing for as long as I can and they will have me. I’ve facilitated in peer support groups for children from preschool age through teens.  I’ve been a camp counselor at their weekend family Camp Healing Hearts. I’ve gained so much from my time at Bo’s Place: friendships and professional connections with an amazing group of volunteer facilitators, training in grief and trauma, professional development workshops, and the opportunity to work with kids in an environment that is truly attuned to their needs.  Bo’s Place has been a warm and consistent space for me as I’ve navigated different jobs and new skills. It has become part of my sense of community and professional identity.

Bo’s Place follows a peer support group model for grief and bereavement.  The core of their programming focuses on children and families, but they also have groups for adults and pregnancy loss.  Services are free for participants and there is no “timeline” for their participation.  Regardless of the timing of the death, if the family is grieving and needs support, Bo’s Place will either offer them a space or help direct them to another community resource that might meet their needs.  As a child life specialist, it warms my heart to volunteer in a space that has a playroom, art room, music room, and “tornado” room (indoor space for active group games).  They recognize the need for children to play out their feelings in a safe space and make it a reality.

So, if you are looking for a rewarding volunteer experience, check out Bo’s Place or the grief support center in your community.  People often ask if it is sad to work with grieving children. Honestly, while it can occasionally be sad or emotionally intense, there is also a ton of laughter and a lot of playfulness. Bo’s Place is a hopeful space; families see that they are not alone, get to share memories and feelings, and learn to cope.

If you are interested in applying to become a volunteer facilitator, please read more about it here.


Photo Credit: Luke Saagi via Flickr

New Child Life Blogs

I’ve seen a few new child life blogs pop up recently, and I thought I should share them here.  I’m always excited to see new child life voices and perspectives pop up in blogs and social media.  I keep a list of CCLS blogs and sites on the sidebar, and I’m always on the lookout for more.  So, if I’m missing a good child life read, please let me know!


Childlifeology is written by Stefani Tower; a Bank Street graduate, child life specialist and mom of 2. She covers a lot of different areas relevant for child life specialists, students and parents including book reviews, resources and psychosocial topics.

Connecting with Compassion: The Confessions of Two Child Life Specialists

Caroline and Sydney are recent graduates and certified child life specialists.  They share their experiences (one is starting her first child life job, the other is in grad school and teaching early childhood), tips for students starting the child life journey, and review lots of resources.

Play Specialists

This site offers an international perspective on psychosocial care with information for health play specialists in the UK.  Their role is very similar to child life in the US.  You can learn about their higher education requirements, training, resources, and practice.  It’s a very new site, so they are just now adding content. However, I’m looking forward to reading all about how a similar profession functions “across the pond”!

Let’s spread the love of all things child life by building a strong network of CCLS online!  As always, like, share, follow and help our community grow…


Cupcake Paper Flowers

I hope that everyone is adjusting to the end of summer and the start of school.  It has been a super busy few weeks for me, and far too long since I’ve posted here.  I’ve survived the first week of teaching my college class, which I love, but there is always such a frenzy of preparation at the beginning.  On top of that, I am in training as a PRN (per diem) child life specialist at a local hospital.  I’m super excited about it because I’ll be working primarily with NICU babies and families.  I get to spend time in the hospital and practice those clinical skills while still teaching and working on the practice.  I think it is going to be a good fit and everyone has been very welcoming so far. So, lots of excitement and a long to-do list lately.  Despite all of that, I’ve still had a bit of time for creative pursuits.  I thought that today I’d share a craft project that school agers and teens might enjoy: DIY flowers out of cupcake liner papers and drinking straws.   I created a bouquet of these flowers as part of a birthday gift and thought they were a sweet decoration. This is a simple, inexpensive project with lots of room for customization and embellishment.

Materials Needed:

  • Paper cupcake liners in various colors, patterns, and sizes
  • Plastic flexible drinking straws (the “bendy” kind)
  • Scissors
  • Hole punch
  • Tape
  1. Gather together your materials. The hole punch is optional.
  2. Choose 3-5 cupcake liners to use for your flower.  I generally use a mix of large and small and patterned and plain.
  3. Cut your cupcake liners into flower shapes.  I created petals by making straight cuts up to the line marking the cupcake base. I then rounded the edges.  You can also gently fold the liner (first in half, then in half again or thirds) and cut a petal shape. For the simplest flowers you can skip cutting and just flatten your cupcake liners.
  4. Layer your cupcake paper flower pieces. At this point, I often cut the petals shorter on one of the liners to make it medium sized (see polka dot layer above).
  5. Create a hole for your straw in your flower pieces using the hole punch or by cutting a small “x” shape in the center.
  6. Thread the top (bendy end) of your straw through the hole.  At least an inch of straw should poke through.
  7. Use small pieces of tape to secure the paper liners to the straw in front and back.  You can use clear tape or decorative paper washi tape (this works well because of its slight give and flexibility).
  8. If you leave your straw as-is, it can still be used to drink with.  In the hospital, these might be fun “silly straws” to use for medicine taking or fluid intake.
  9. To create a center “stamen” for your flower you can cut straight lines in the end of your straw.  Bend back the plastic pieces to create the center of your flower (see final photo above).
  10. Enjoy!

Trying A New Look

Which one to choose?

Which one to choose?

I felt it was time to give the blog a little makeover.  There isn’t an easy way to put the blog in “maintance mode” without changing the settings to private (which means no one would be able to see it and search engines would ignore it). So, please bear with me as I change themes and make tweaks to the visual elements and sidebar area.  I’m currently playing around with the Fictive Theme and I really like a lot about the look and the customization.  I’m not 100% sold yet, so don’t be surprised if it changes again as I feel like it is a little harder to navigate.  Please feel free to leave comments with your opinion and how the blog reads on your internet browser/mobile device.  Feedback is helpful!

Photo Credit: LexnGer via Flickr

A Playful Week in the West

A few weeks ago I took an unexpected, but awesome, vacation! A good friend of mine needed help driving home from a visit to her parents’ house in Wyoming. She called to see if I was available. At first, I thought about all the things I needed to do and I felt a bit guilty because my husband would be here working. But, then I thought about my playfulness plan, and also about seizing opportunities. How often do I have the chance to visit Wyoming and spend a few days in the mountains? How often do I have the chance to drive across half the country? And so, I said yes. And it was a wonderful, playful adventure.

I stepped outside my comfort zone and learned new things,

a bird's eye view from 10,000 ft off Rendezvous Peak

a bird’s eye view from 10,000 ft off Rendezvous Peak

got up close and personal with wildlife,

bison, outdoors, Wyoming

herd of bison on the way to Yellowstone Natl. Park

visited a national treasure,

waiting for Old Faithful

waiting for Old Faithful

and saw fireworks on the 4th of July.

driving through a summer storm

driving through a summer storm

It was fun to step outside the everyday for a few days, but it’s good to be home. I’m back in Texas and feeling refreshed after such an amazing journey.

Attention Students: Course Work Review

Be prepared to apply for a course work review

Be prepared to apply for a course work review

I received an email several days ago from the Child Life Council with information for students on the course work review service.  I wanted to share the information here to help spread the word.  The course work review is one step of the certification process.  It is not required by CLC, but is a service that is offered to students as a way of determining that they have met the course work requirements for certification prior to submitting their exam eligibility application.

Many internship sites DO require students complete the course work review as part of the application process.  Generally, internship sites only want to put time and energy into training students that will be immediately eligible to sit for the certification exam once their internship is complete.  By having students complete the course work review, they can be certain that a student’s academic preparation is sufficient for exam eligibility. So, what’s changed?  Essentially this “change” is really just an extension of a service that CLC has always offered.  The CLC is moving toward a new online Eligibility Assessment service that allows candidates to create a profile and add eligibility criteria (like courses and transcripts). It was supposed to be active this month (July 2014), but has been delayed to ensure a smooth system.  Students applying for the September internship application deadline or the November certification exam should know that they may need to apply for a course work review.  Here is a link to an article from CLC with more information:

Course Work Review: Available Through September 1, 2014