Sue Sterling has overcome many obstacles to get to where she is today.
She's battled severe depression for years and says she'll never be cured of the illness, but has learned to live with it the best she can.
"It affects everything you do and say," she said of the depression many of her friends don't know she struggles with. "It's still a journey."
It started in 1989 near the end of her failed marriage and in 2004 things started looking up.
"I got my brain back," she said. "Over the past four and a half years I've gotten closer to God."
Sue Sterling worked at her calligraphy station Friday in her apartment in Brainerd.
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Brainerd Dispatch/ Kelly Humphrey
Sterling, a Little Falls native, was living in Coon Rapids working as a secretary and "got sick of the rat race."
She had been visiting Brainerd during the summer of 2007 while working at Northstar Camp, a camp for Seventh-day Adventist youths, and decided to check out her alma mater, Brainerd Area Vocational Technical Institute (now Brainerd South Campus). When she realized the school was no longer there, she visited Central Lakes College and her life was never the same.
She ended up moving to Brainerd and at age 55, enrolled in CLC's computer technology program. She later realized the program wasn't for her but gained knowledge and a new passion in her life - writing.
"I decided to use the talents God gave me instead of learning how to repair computers," she said. "Going back to CLC helped me recognize my potential."
Going back to school gave Sterling the self-confidence she says she's always lacked. Now she's planning to start her own business as a freelance writer and professional calligrapher where she'll write wedding and party invitations.
She's been doing calligraphy since 1978 and has been teaching the writing style for more than 10 years, most recently through Brainerd Community Education. Sterling hopes to get Brainerd Lakes Calligraphy Society started so she can meet people who share her hobby.
"I long for people who have the same interests as me," she said.
Her small Brainerd apartment located in a quiet retirement community has space for a calligraphy work area and a computer to surf the Web, but she doesn't usually use it for writing.
Sterling writes out her many columns by hand at first and she says if they're worthy of being sent to a publication for printing, she'll type them out. Sterling has been published in many Christian magazines and other local publications. She writes about things like her faith journey, how she taught her grandchild to ride a bike and being the mom of soldiers at war.
Sterling has three sons, all of whom have served in the military. At one point one of her sons was serving in Iraq while the other was in Afghanistan. She described that time as torturous. They both made it home safely and now Sterling has three grandchildren to focus on.
"My grandkids are the apple of my eye," she said.
HEIDI LAKE may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5879.
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