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Teen Takes a Bite Out of the World

What most people call a vacation, Sarah O'Donoghue calls life. Now she just needs to fill the coffers and get back to it.

"We are born creators, we have the means through technology to go almost anywhere. See the world, sink your teeth into something," said the 19-year-old Weston resident. That is, Weston resident only in name. She doesn't see the region as being particularly her home.

O'Donoghue is back in the U.S. from the Bahamas. Down there, she lives in an ashram, a sort of dojo for yoga and spirituality with roots in India. There she learns the art and in turn helps teach. While it sustains her, it doesn't put money in the bank. "If that was a paying gig, you'd never see me again," said O'Donoghue as she sat, in a somewhat lotus position on one of the benches between the Saugatuck River and the Westport Library. Her handbag lies casually tossed to one side, a plastic bag full of cans waiting to be recycled to the other.

O'Donoghue spends her afternoons pouring coffee and grabbing sandwiches at the Westport Library's café, which is an extension itself of Doc's on Riverside Avenue. The cans she has with her are from the coffee shop, which doesn't have recycling bins yet, so O'Donoghue takes them herself. The concept of littering is anathema to her. If money were never an object, she said her life would be spent cleaning beaches of the day to day debris people leave behind.

To get the bills paid and fund the next adventure, O'Donoghue also works as a personal assistant for naturopath Dr. Paul Epstein. When time allows, a smattering of photography enters the mix. All of it goes to funding her next quest.

The outgoing barista is quick to engage patrons in conversation. She doesn't expect everyone to respond in kind. "Out of 10 people, six won't even look you in the eye. Three might say thank you. But there is always one that has this insane story that just totally changes your whole day," said O'Donoghue. Some of those stories and the odd people in them get recast through the lens of fiction into the occasional short story that fills her journals. She said one day those stories might grow into something more to share.

Again looking out at the water, she mentions her mother's death last November after a five-year battle with cancer. She misses her, but while not being religious – despite living in the ashram – O'Donoghue knows her mother is still with her. "She's not in pain. She's in a better place and I have her in the best way. Everything she ever taught me; I have that now," said O'Donoghue.

She wants to study vedic healing practices in California and then, perhaps pursue something in more traditional medicine. But for now, where the wind blows her is where she'll be. It isn't being aloof or an extended vacation, it is just living life the way it should be: happy.

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