Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Thoughts after the inauguration from my ordinary life in Minnesota January 23, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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A COLLAGE OF THOUGHTS swirl as I consider the weekend, one that began with watching inauguration coverage. My life is so far removed from Washington, from all the glitz and glam and powder blue fashions. I simply can’t relate to such wealth, such power, such opulence.

There’s really no comparison to my ordinary life in Minnesota.




My weekend involved grocery and other necessity shopping, checking out a pile of books and a movie from the library, watching a 1960s film about Bonnie & Clyde, sitting through the car wash twice, reading On Writing Well by William Zinsser, rewriting a piece of nonfiction, attending worship services, calling my mom and going to the funeral home. Walk into one visitation, then out the door and into a second visitation.


Soap slides down the car window at the car wash, symbolic of my weekend.

Soap slides down the car window at the car wash, this edited photo symbolic of my weekend.

I consoled grieving parents, two grieving husbands, a grieving son and two grieving daughters. I wrapped my arms around a young woman shaking with sorrow at the death of her 56-year-old mom. I comforted a friend who painted the nails of her deceased 98-year-old mother-in-law lying dressed in her wedding gown. As I considered the nonagenarian’s Christian faith, I thought how fitting her burial attire.





This weekend was one of tears, of ranging emotions, of grey skies and foggy days. The world of Washington elite seems as far removed from my life as Mars.

TELL ME: Do you ever think similar thoughts, wondering how those in power can possibly understand the ordinary worlds in which most of us live? Be advised that I don’t want this to turn into a heated political debate.

© Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


47 Responses to “Thoughts after the inauguration from my ordinary life in Minnesota”

  1. Carol Says:

    Those in power, who set the agenda and make the decisions for others, probably don’t have an inkling of the lives of most of us, but at some point in their lives they experience grief and they themselves will be mourned. In the end, we have that in common.

  2. Beth Ann Says:

    You definitely had a weekend of emotions and I am so sorry for the losses that you and the families have experienced. I pray that those in power can identify with the “normal” citizens and their problems. As I watch the news this morning about the tornadoes and storms that took lives I realize that these things affect everyone regardless of income. We are all at different places on the financial spectrum and it is my prayer and hope that everyone can just come together in times of need and be unified. I am hopeful. There’s that word. Hope. I have hope that those with much and those in Washington can identify with the basic American.

  3. You know my work position and what it involves and I really try hard to remove myself from it when I go home at night and on the weekends. Crazy busy time for me right now. I think for me this weekend put a few things into perspective in a good way and a few others had me chewing on them. Sorry to hear about the recent losses. Here’s to a Good Week 🙂

  4. Colleen Gengler Says:

    I found your comments very interesting and maybe telling of what a lot of Americans might be feeling. I do think as a civic experience that it would be good to attend an inauguration if I could deal with the crowds and the hassle. I love DC and have been there 3 or 4 times. But still, I don’t know it very well so it would be a challenge. I doubt I could get invited to a ball and I probably wouldn’t feel comfortable there anyway but the rest of it would be good. There were stories on the news about a couple of youth groups who attended. One was a group of 4-Hers from Minnesota. The other was a group of young adults – may have been college students – from a faith based organization who went as part of the civic experience. I think that would help put them in touch with government and make it seem more real and accessible.

    On the bigger question of politicians staying in touch with life’s realities of the average person, I think some do, some don’t. It surely must be a conscious effort to not get swept up in the drama of the day. Some may not be able to do that at all given their life circumstance to begin with. It may also be part of the culture of economics; there is a lot of research on the culture of the poor, culture of the middle class and also the culture of the wealthy. We have different languages, practices, expectations and mindsets so it can be difficult to move from one to the other.

    Food for thought on a Monday morning!

  5. Rita Waters Says:

    I don’t see how the majority of political figures can truly comprehend the average middle class people’s mind set.Not the the ones who have not had to work for a living to get where they are in the capital.Most have come from money and truly don’t understand what it is like to struggle from pay check to paycheck.
    the will never have to worry about a salary once the leave washinton nor worry about health benefits..they know their future is always secure.

    • Thank you, Rita, for expressing your opinion. I take, from your comment, that health benefits are a major concern for you. And for so many, including my husband and me. The cost of our health insurance premiums is my biggest financial concern. It takes a mega part of our income and we still have big deductibles.

  6. Almost Iowa Says:

    Politics is is how we project our faith, our opinions, our hope and dreams onto the world. It is why it gets so emotional and personal at time. But politics is also about the brutal realities of what is possible and what is affordable and what you have to give up to get what you need and want… and that is why it is so unpopular.

    But let me tell a story, a good story about politics and a politician.

    Back in the 1980’s during the “world is going to end by nuclear holocaust” hysteria, I attended a neighborhood meeting at the Longfellow Community Center in Minneapolis featuring then Congressman Martin Sabo.

    During the question and answer period, a young mother took the mic and couldn’t talk through her tears. Embarrassed she fled back to her seat and sobbed uncontrollably. The collective fear of Armageddon had her in its grip.

    Congressman Sabo asked the crowd to take a break and give him a few minutes. He then sat down next to the woman and consoled her until she regained her composure and the meeting continued.

    Back then I was a supporter of Martin Sabo. Now, he is gone and I probably would not vote for him if he was still in office. Yet the feelings I held for the man went far beyond respect.

  7. Jean Schmidkte Says:

    I was one that watched the whole 2 days. The Eve of the 19th was wonderful. Beautiful Music, right to the end with the fireworks. I have a great love for our country and I think we need to remember that a lot of these Presidents work their way up from the very bottom and keep reaching for the stars. Some don’t have it but it seems when they get in office they become very rich also. I was very impressed with hearing God mention several times in Trumps speech. We all need to unite and Saturdays protests were off the wall. It is scary what they say and then have young kids in the bunch learning their ways. God have Mercy on the Women in the protest and our Country and our Churches Peace be with you.

    • You are correct that some politicians work their way up from the bottom and do understand the average American. I don’t mean to lump all of them together. That said, I know that getting into a position of power can change people and not always in a positive way.

      So much of what is being spoken, on all sides, scares me.

      And, yes, peace is something we all need, no matter our views.

  8. Larry Says:

    Sustenance, knowledge, comfort, cleanliness, that about covers it; rich or poor. We all share these four needs.

  9. A Conscious Life Says:

    My belief is that we make ourselves unknown to what we label as “elite” by not introducing ourselves and our challenges to them. In all actuality, they live in the same world and have the same worries as everyone else. They are public servants. Being in the public eye is not easy task in and of itself. As representatives of our country and government, what they wear and how they present themselves is powerfully important. Perhaps, though, not so important as to discuss the labels they are wearing to the point of becoming obsessive. They simply chose a different task in life than maybe you or I have chosen. I am certain they have also comforted others and laid loved ones to rest.

  10. Valerie Says:

    It definitely is a different way of live they lead…as our ordinary lives go on…

    On a different note I want to look up the writing book you are reading…I am always interested in new titles. I am reading a book on writing by Natalie Goldberg called Thunder and Lightning.

    • I highly recommend On Writing Well. I’ve been writing for decades, but still learn ways to improve my writing. A refresher is always helpful. This book offers spot-on ways to improve your writing with examples cited. Every writer should read this volume.

      I’d also suggest reading Stephen King’s A Memoir on the Craft of Writing. I am not a fan of Stephen King’s genre. But this book is a must read if you are a writer.

  11. Debi Maxson Says:

    My friend calls long distance about 6AM each Saturday morning…..and if we don’t solve all the problems in the usual 3plus hours, she will call again Sunday and we will talk until I get ready for church. These talks are full of memories and understandings and questions about life. Her husband passed and though it is actually several years ago, it feels like yesterday. He was a vet and a Marine and anytime the people of America would show their ugly and I would sound off, he would remind me that he risked his life to serve this country and this country is the only country where you have a right to speak…….I would have to agree (though truth be told I pointed out ‘I guess that gives some people the right to be stupid, too’). I believe my vote went to a man who sees all the glitz and glamour as separating as you and I see it, MzAudrey. I am in my 60’s and I do not recall a more divided country – even with Vietnam newscasting our every waking moment. The division seems to have started with political dishonesty being accepted and a president being pardoned. We need truth. We need to stop looking for someone to blame. I listened to President Trump’s address and felt he was saying what we need to hear. I have voted in many elections and this time there was a desperation like this one would be a last chance to get back on track. Perhaps Washington has had free rein with our lives and perhaps we just needed to not worry about the politicking going on but, whatever ‘it’ was will now be left in the dust of our nation looking to go forward in a new direction with people not afraid to look to GOD for guidance. “If my people who are called by my name” is a call for the nation to turn from the politics who have ruled us to the GOD that has rescued us.
    -and remember MzAudrey, the fact that you have a life in the carwash with a camera on a Saturday, and a worship service on Sunday shows GOD is still in charge. Sometimes all the biggie big stuff of our lives ganging up on our day to day life just needs a new perspective.
    I mentioned my friend at the beginning of my lengthy ‘comment’ to say I hope you have a best friend. When I think of stars and bars and cars and wars of the rich and famous, I wonder how many never had a friend, never thought of others, never knew the Lord. Friendship is a one on one relationship.You give and take and you feel a part of your heart shared with another. It is that one person you stand raw in front of and know they will cover you. In all the social media visited as a life, I cannot help but wonder how many people hide themselves with a Jane Jetson mask and join the group just to belong. My children and their children seem to have never been introduced to the one who will fill that craving that will not be filled until you know the Lord. I have read the compassion you hold for others MzAudrey. As one who has struggled to come to this place in my life. I find your pieces of life renewing. Thank you

    • Wow, this is a long missive. And I do so welcome your comments. We are having an interesting discussion here today.

      I fully recognize how blessed I am to live in a country where I am free to take photos, free to write, yes, even free to use a car wash. And, yes, I do place my trust in God. I am thankful, too, for my freedom to worship.

      Thank you for seeing the compassion I hold for others and for appreciating my writing.

  12. Don Says:

    Math equation as a function of society:

    economically rich ≥ power = politics ≤ overall society happiness

  13. Jackie Says:

    A post well written Audrey, to leave each his own thoughts on politics and the leadership of our country. I am hopeful and refuse to let the media determine my thoughts. Sorry to hear of the losses you experienced this weekend…Life is short, a good reminder to love, there are no guarantees to where this life will take us. I’m glad we both share the same “Hope”. Blessing to you my dear friend

  14. ——Audrey,
    I am really quite beside myself right now…
    Not sure if my voice is enough…Not sure about the world…not sure about the future.
    I am one of those women…( Not in protest ) but in marching, wanting to be seen & heard & remembered.
    Yes, I am one of those women…who marched for domestic abuse, stronger gun laws, respect, & all humanity.
    I hope we can unite in LOVE as you often show your readers that you do! xxx

    • Oh, Kim, I think many of us share in that feeling of uncertainty.

      Thank you for “marching” against domestic abuse. I share that march. Yours is strong and powerful.

      And thank you for “marching” for respect and for all humanity. We should all strive to walk that way.

  15. Kathleen Ahern Says:

    First of all Audrey, my heart goes out to you with the enormous amount of grieve and sadness you’ve had. I have no doubt your presence and words were of great comfort to those who lost their loved ones.

    In terms of this past weekend, I, too, am so very grateful to live in a country where we can all express our opinions, no matter how different they are from others near and far.

    This expression includes every form of speech – from this great blog you have, Audrey, to the people who were protesting/marching this weekend. And yes, I was one of those women in the march, with other women and men (including my sweet, strong husband ) who were expressing our feelings and thoughts.

    Because we have differences of opinions doesn’t mean that one side is in more need of God.

    This country belongs to all of us, regardless of what we believe or think. Brave people have given their lives for us to be able to each hold our own beliefs and express them — as people did who supported the inauguration and as people did who chose to March.

    I’m grateful to live in America, and want to see its freedoms protected.

  16. Ken Wedding Says:

    I try, with all my imagination, to understand what life is like for someone surrounded by assistants, servants, followers, and sycophants who never have any worries about paying bills or getting health care or traveling from one place on the globe to another. I am at a loss to imagine how I would feel or act in such a situation.

    I doubt that national-level politicians, business executives, or simply the rich and privileged top 1% have better imaginations than I do. So I can’t believe that someone like our president could have a clue about what my decidedly middle class life is like. I think the most recent president had only a glimmer, and that was nastily twisted by society’s racism.

    I am incredibly lucky that I live in such a rich country and have had fantastic good fortune (well, not fortune in a materialistic sense) in my life. I am grateful for all the hard work that all my neighbors and predecessors have done to create this society and culture. I wish those rich and powerful one-percenters had as much gratitude for what all of us groundlings have done to make their lives so unimaginable privileged and showed it by relieving some of the stresses and anxieties most of us face.

  17. Nancy DeVault Says:

    If you all think this new president is going to help you, I hope you are not too surprised and disappointed when you realize he is only going to help himself and his family and friends. We have no idea what businesses he has since he has not revealed his tax returns. He is lying about everything. He is very unpredictable. He has already removed Climate Change and Civil Rights from the White House website. His cabinet picks all want to eliminate the organizations they will be heading. Women and men were protesting on Saturday all over the world because Republicans want to take away reproductive rights that women have been fighting for for decades. Women are still treated like second class citizens. We can not go backward. If people keep voting in Republicans, we will never get rid of Citizens United and get money out of politics. Please realize politicians only use God to get your vote. Some of them are so greedy, prejudice, racist and misogynistic they wouldn’t recognize Jesus if he walked up to them on the street.

  18. Mark Says:

    I have never known a politician to understand the needs of the local people. Even at the local level. Among the poor in this state (TN) are fat cats who vote themselves many benefits that ordinary people rarely use. An example is the bike trails and college programs that are tax payer supported, property taxes go up but few of us can use these things.The politicians mean well, but sometimes in their exuberance to build and beautify the community, using eminent domain to bully homeowners just doesn’t seem right. The local schools get many of these benefits. People gather to protest. The Mayor says, “Deal with it!” to his people.

    • I am sorry for the difficulties you are observing in TN.

      Fortunately, I am aware of politicians who are honest and do care. Past and present. There will always be those on both sides.

      • Mark Says:

        We have decent people here, but it has been a long time since they had one (locally) who didn’t vote tax dollars to support building programs for the college or other organizations. Even out Electric company donates millions and then our rates go up. So who donated? HOWEVER, the Gov here is pretty decent, and we have good county representatives who listen and understand the needs of the local community.

      • That’s positive that you have those “pretty decent” and “good” folks serving in some public offices.

  19. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    I often wonder why those two individuals were the best candidates that America had to offer. Both are out of touch with reality.

    I’m so sorry that you had such an emotional weekend!

  20. There truly are reasons beyond reason! We must walk with a faith that is unseen for sure now.

  21. Gunny Says:

    Wow, the long and short of it. Well, as one can tell, I spent a lot of time in the Corps (pronounced “Core” and not “corpse”. I am a Viet Nam vet X2 and a vet of Lebanon (1983 or 85- hey I am old timer). We are all entitled to our own opinion. Keep in mind, our opinions may be right for the wrong reasons or wrong for the right reasons. As citizens, our JOB is to be informed so to be better able to vote. If the current election of the new President scares you, consider how that last two elections scared the other half. Based on the results of the current election, everyone should give a sigh of relief as the conservative “bible-thumping, gun-owning” class chose to vote instead of dragging out an estimated 200 million guns and 13 trillion rounds of ammunition to overthrow the last regime. We live in the greatest country, even though we may have some objections. If Democrats have objections for this administration, consider how much objectionable the Republicans found with the administration of the last 8 years!

  22. The problem is there are 2 sides to politics. Where there should only be 1. And that should be based off of facts. I probably am as guilty no matter how hard I try not to, but people tend to believe the facts that they want to believe and ignore the rest. Even if it is common sense. People have gotten too entitled and self serving (politicians and general public as a whole). If you listen to a group of people talk it appears everyone just wants to do whatever they want to do when they want to do it. Sounds great right? Problem is that creates chaos. If what I want affects what you want then who is right and who gets their way? I could take all day and paint a picture of the how things are screwed up but in the end the facts and opinions would be nibbled on by the reader to suit their want in an agreement or a fight.

  23. Gunny Says:

    Aaaah. Love it CoffeBean2017!

    Love to have a cup of Joe and a conversation with you sometime. Love the hat! Nice one! Politicians! well, I guess we gotta have them, but they are like babies and they need to be changed frequently! Currently, there is a politician who wants to impeach the current high office holder. He has his reasons, but what I find ironic is that he did not question his brother (a local politico) who exceeded his authority as mayor.

    When politicians win the election, they have won the Lotto! They do change once they get in office. Problem is, they are not the only ones. The lowest elected official is often also affected. While we all know they get dressed the same way we do, they get dressed up because someone with a camera is going to take their picture. I agree with CoffeeBean, there should only be one goal!

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