Guest Blogger Cheryl Turner Reflects on the Writing Workshop

I was diagnosed with Degenerative Joint Disease in November 2008, declared disabled and was no longer able to perform physical labor. I decided I needed to go back to school to update my education and job skills.

When I first heard about Free Minds I was just finishing up a computer and job readiness certificate program at the Austin Academy. I figured if I could get accepted into Free Minds, I could find out if I was really college material. I’ve always been told that I don’t give myself enough credit so when I submitted my essay and was interviewed and accepted into the program in July 2010, it blew my mind. It gave me confidence and a sense of pride that I hadn’t had in myself in a long time.

As luck would have it, my doctor finally set me a surgery date after almost two years for a long-awaited hip replacement, and recovery time would be long. I was heartbroken that I would have to resign my spot in the program before ever getting started.

Vivé and Hana invited me to come sit in on some of the classes once I’d recovered, and in February I decided to call to see if the offer was still open. I was told about the eight-week writing workshop in the process of starting up. I was thrilled at the idea and decided it would be great for my 16-year-old son Matthew as well, since he loves to write.

Since then, I’ve been introduced to very talented minds, a variety of people with different thoughts, opinions, styles of writing, each with their own unique personalities, all sharing and giving critical feedback on each other’s writings in a judgment-free atmosphere. I’ve also learned a lot about my son through his writings, which have brought us even closer.

I’ve always known that words can be very powerful weapons, but what I never knew was that words are also a way of hope and healing and building bridges and bonds. I’ve learned to be open and honest when I write, to go deeper into detail.

I start classes at ACC this summer, and I plan to major in business. Thanks Free Minds for freeing me from my shell and giving me the privilege to freely express myself.

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