Sarah Vaughn of New York, NY

Picture of winner's bracelet.
I was born in the Bay Area, California (Golden Gate Bridge 3589) in December (Sagittarius 4781), right around Christmas time. Many people say that those born in December are unlucky because relatives will consolidate your Christmas and birthday gifts into one. I’ve never thought of myself as unlucky. I think those of us who are born around Christmas have an optimistic view on life because we are born into a month of celebrations, family get-togethers, and fun with the holidays surrounding our special day. The first experiences that many of us have are filled with festivities and a chance to make special memories with those dearest to us. When I was around 15, my parents’ marriage began to fall apart, just after my baby brother was born. I told my beloved grandfather of my fear of the situation, which he did not yet know about. My maternal grandfather, who lived with our family, was an integral part of our close-knit family. He took the news very hard and had a heart attack the same day I told him. One of the charms would have to be a locket to keep his picture (Locket 8602) and another to represent my American grandfather’s work with relations between Japan (Map of Japan 8304) (my father’s country) and the U.S. I left home at 17 to get my feet on the ground, as my family had fallen apart and I began to live out of my car, anyway. I’d always been an honor student but suddenly the dream of going to college was replaced by reality. I became increasingly worried about my brother, who was beginning to get forgotten in the chaos of a divorce. I promised myself to experience as much of life as possible, mistakes and all. If I had no ability to raise my brother, who was as close to my heart as a child of my own, then I would at least become savvy enough to be able to guide him to make the right choices so he could do what he wanted to in life when he grew up. One of the charms would have to be Archangel Michael (St. Michael 3388) whose image comforted me many times and another would be of Buddha (Buddha 0650) whose philosophy also inspires me in life. I moved to the Rocky Mountains and found a town that had a small Japanese community. I took job training as a chef at a Japanese restaurant and worked diligently for many years. I suffered many hardships, however. I quickly learned that a young girl on her own is often subject to many abuses. I was harassed by many men that I worked with. During those years, I was also abused by a therapist that I trusted who was supposed to help me get through Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that I developed during a violent fight I had with my mother during my parents’ rocky divorce. For over a decade, the difficulties kept piling up on top of one another. A failed engagement. A fiancé that cheated on me and then developed schizophrenia just days after. I watched him almost die from a suicide attempt. During those years, my beautiful Siamese cat was a kindred spirit and helped me to feel unconditional love that I sorely lacked in my life. (Cat 1550) Years later, I met my current boyfriend who has stuck by me through thick and thin over several years now. He has helped me to overcome my PTSD, has always given me the benefit of the doubt when my fears would cause me to react in ways that he could easily walk away from and has given me unconditional love. (Open Heart 3391) We eventually decided to live together in NYC (World Trade Center 3842) and I landed a managerial position at a major hotel that most people going to top universities apply for. My brother visits me here in my new home. He received a full ride from his University this year. We share many things in common and though I never was able to go to college, we both share a passion of always learning something new. Something else we share is a love of music. One charm would be the piano (Piano 8252) which represents the first instrument I ever learned and also the instrument my brother taught himself to play. I enjoy hearing the songs that he writes and he would someday like to perform for others. I feel so lucky and grateful to experience my life with those I love.

Sarah Vaughn
New York, NY

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