Stephanie Firman of Royal Oak, MI

I read about your contest in my sister's Parents magazine, and have enjoyed creating my life bracelet from your extensive collection!  It was hard to narrow down my charms, but I've picked the most appropriate for me, and I hope to continue to add to my bracelet as the years pass. So here goes...

I would have to begin my bracelet with the March Charm (charm #4764). I was born on St. Patrick's Day, March 17th, 26 years ago.  When I was a child, I had many Clovers/Green/Pot of Gold themed birthdays, but it didn't bother me. I feel as though life is precious and that every year should be celebrated, and the March Charm would do just that for me. Every time I would look at it, I would remember birthdays passed--- like my Beauty and the Beast Sleepover when I turned 9, my special party at school when I was in kindergarten, and Mint Chocolate Sundaes at the local ice cream shop to celebrate birthdays away from home with my college roommates. It would also encourage me to think of the years to come, and how I will celebrate those birthdays---like seeing the river turn green in Chicago or my dream trip to Ireland for a birthday! Although I haven't had many birthdays yet, I feel as though I have accomplished a lot in my 26 years of life, and strive even harder to achieve more goals as more birthdays come and go. Plus, my Aquamarine birthstone, matches my blue eyes!

I would have to include an ice skate charm Charm description (charm #3056) to my bracelet to remember this favorite pastime of my childhood. I would spend many Saturdays watching figure skating on TV, and looked forward to going to the Ice Capades every year with my aunt. I was so excited when my parents decided I could take ice skating lessons when I was in elementary school. I was convinced I would one day compete in the Olympics! The ice skate charm would remind me to dream big. Like my Aunt Bobbie always used to tell me, "If you're going to dream...dream big!  It doesn't cost a bit more!"

When I was in Junior High, I wanted to learn how to play the violin. I begged my parents for a whole year before they agreed!  When we went to the music store to pick up my violin, I saw a gold violin charm in a glass case behind the counter.  Not only did I fall in love with my new violin, but I also fell in love with that gold violin charm. For my 13th birthday, my parents gave me that gold violin charm, and I wore it everywhere.  Unfortunately, I lost that necklace not too long after receiving it. I learned how to play the violin, and played in orchestras and ensembles in High school and College.  And, I still have the dream of playing in a major Symphony Orchestra one day--- I need to practice more though! But, I never did forget about that charm necklace that I lost.  I was so thrilled to see that you had a violin charm (charm #0501) that looks just like the one I lost! I think it would be a perfect addition to my bracelet!

I wanted to honor my Grandmother in my charm bracelet. I chose the filigree heart charm (charm #3618) to represent her, because she has such a big heart. Gramma lived with us while I was growing up, and often I would sneak upstairs to spend time with her before bedtime. She has always been an encouragement to me in the way that she embraces life and loves other people.  She has been a source of spiritual stability to me, and for these reasons I am proud to share her name.  Ruth means "friendship" and my Gramma has been that to many people including me.  I hope that I have as much energy and laughter in my life when I am 86, as she does!

I chose the Labrador charm (charm #3453) to honor my first dog, Oreo. We got her as a puppy, and named her Oreo because she was all black with a white stripe down her belly. She gave us many interesting memories...some good and some not so good.  She loved French Fries and chasing after balls.  She barked when we'd leave the house, and could go days without "using the potty!"  We always said she had a bladder of steal. She was a stubborn animal, but we loved her anyway! My sister and I had to beg to keep her after we came home one day and found that she had ripped up the tile in the kitchen, and I remember chasing her around the muddy backyard when she got loose one my church clothes and new white shoes!  She was a precious part of our family, and I felt honored to be holding her when she took her last breath. Her charm will remind me of my very first pet, and how much she meant to me!

Just recently I celebrated my 2nd year anniversary of being a registered nurse, so I chose the RN Caduceus (charm #0543) to be a part of my bracelet.  I had always wanted to be a nurse since I was really young. My mom has stories that I wrote in 5th grade about being a nurse. 2 years ago, I graduated from nursing school and cried through my entire pinning ceremony, because I was so relieved to be done with school. Little did I know, that the learning was such about to begin!  I began my career at Children's Hospital of Michigan where I worked with children who had been burned. We were the only pediatric burn unit in the state, so we dealt with serious burn traumas consistently. I also had the privilege of working with children in rehab due to various injuries (gun shot wounds, car accidents, burns, etc). Although my job was very stressful, I learned to value my health and not take a minute of my life for granted. I think that being a nurse has taught me to enjoy life and savor little a sunrise or a hug. I find great passion in helping parents and children, and just recently started a new job working with pediatrics, women's health, and postpartum. It is so neat to get to know patients and their families in such critical times in their lives.  Being a nurse is such a gift, and I am thankful more and more each day for having the opportunity to work in such a challenging and demanding field.

Next, I had to choose a charm to represent my high school sweetheart, boyfriend, and hopefully soon husband. We met in junior high in 7th grade, but didn't become friends until 11th grade when we were paired together to do duet acting for a state competition. While rehearsing our script, "Driving Miss Daisy" we got to know each other and quickly became best friends. At the end of the school year, we celebrated with friends at Cedar Point. And over a Mountain Dew and a box of French fries, he bluntly told me, "I really really like you!" I was so shocked I almost choked. We then parted for the summer, and met back up at the beginning of our senior year. Although we hadn't seen each other all summer, we picked up where we left off.  We even competed again that year in duet acting and won the state championship!  What can I say?  We made a great team...and still do!  At the end of our senior year we went to Europe on our class trip.  While we were in Europe we made a crucial decision that would change our lives from that point on.  We decided that even though we may be going in opposite directions after graduation, we would continue our relationship.  Our then friendship was turning into much more, and it was too valuable to loose.  So, therefore, we have stormed tragedy, triumph, loss, change, and distance while continuing to love each other unconditionally for the past 9 years. He is my missing piece, and I don't know who I would be without him. I chose the carousel charm (charm #3345) to represent one of our favorite memories from our trip to Europe.  While in France, we found a carousel in the town square that was so beautiful we had to ride it. It had staircases leading up to the second level of the carousel! I had never seen one so big!  We were the only people on the carousel that afternoon, and it was so memorable and romantic. We have had many wonderful memories together. And, I'm sure we will have many more! I have one picture of that carousel in France, and would love to add the carousel charm to my bracelet to remember those days so far away from home when we fell in love.

The daisy charm (charm #8311) would represent all of the many daisies I have received from my boyfriend over the years. Because of "Driving Miss Daisy" daisies became our flower, and he surprised me with my first bunch when we went on our first official date to the Detroit Zoo. I have been given many bouquets of daisies, and never get tired of them! In fact, we hope to one day get a dog and name her Daisy in honor of our flower!

My nieces and nephew play such an important role in my life, that I had to include the #1 aunt charm (charm #2934) to my bracelet. I was at the hospital when Benjamin was born and got to hold him when he was just a few minutes old. He is now 4 years old and thinks that he is Luke Skywalker.  He is so much fun!  Natalie is quite the miracle baby and the fighting-attitude she needed to survive is evident in her almost 2-year-old self! She has a lot of spunk and energy, and always makes me laugh! And then, Brianna Lynn, whose birth I missed because of the miles between us. But, I flew to Las Vegas within a few hours to meet her, and remember that trip vividly!  She surprised us all by arriving 6 weeks sooner than expected. Our earliest memories of her are in the NICU at Sunrise Children's Hospital where she spent the first 10 days of her life.  She is going to turn 1 year old this summer, and is learning new things everyday!  She amazes me!  I am a very proud Aunt Nie Nie!

And, the last charm that I have chosen for my bracelet is the globe charm (charm #8334). I have many wonderful plans to travel and see the world in my lifetime. I would love to backpack through Europe with my sweetheart and visit all the places we once saw and some new ones; I would love to work with children relief in Africa, climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, and go on a real safari; I would love to one day get married in Hawaii; I would love to one day adopt a child from China and travel there to learn about the culture; and I would love to one day circumnavigate the globe on a world cruise with my hubby. The globe charm signifies the future to me.  It reminds me of all the possibilities out there, and that there is more to discover in life.

Thank you so much for this contest! I have had fun reflecting and remembering, and have already picked out more charms to add to my bracelet later on! 

Stephanie Firman
Royal Oak, MI

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