Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

How a woman of leisure moves toward healing July 28, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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The exercise my therapist terms “Woman of Leisure.” Pretend that’s a woman in the drawing.


HOW CAN I BE a woman of leisure when he expects me to wash windows and throw dirt over my head? It’s tough. But I’m up to the challenges issued by my physical therapist.

John has tagged several of my exercises to help me remember them and probably also to make me laugh. Humor helps when you’re stretching and strengthening muscles after a right shoulder break. It takes the edge off the pain.

This recovery takes time, effort and grit. I certainly don’t feel like a woman of leisure as I recline, hands behind head with elbows bent stretching muscles. That right elbow won’t flex down like my left. And I feel pain.

But I’m getting there. After days of washing windows—placing my hands on a hand towel and sliding them up a wall—and other exercises, John noted that I was “significantly better” than at our previous visit. Three sessions into physical therapy, that encouraged me.


Daily I am stretching and strengthening my right arm and shoulder muscles. Martin Eichinger of Portland, Oregon, created this graceful “Bird in the Hand” bronze sculpture valued at $14,500 and posed near the Mankato Civic Center. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2014.


So I’ll stick to my regiment of arm lifting and stretching. Not too little. Not too much. Just as John ordered.

I’m consciously also choosing to use my right appendage, even though my mind and body rebel. After nine weeks of guarding my injured right arm and shoulder, I am retraining my once dominant side. I instinctively do everything with my left hand/arm to avoid pain. I know now that if I am to fully recover, I have to push through the muscle soreness and use my right hand/arm/shoulder. So I am brushing my teeth, combing my hair, opening cupboard doors, washing countertops, closing curtains and more all with my right hand.

This week I caught myself pulling on a t-shirt just as I did pre-May 22 injury with head in neck hole first followed by arms in sleeves. To realize I had just done that boosted my confidence. I am healing.


This message on the window of a business in downtown Clear Lake, Iowa, resounds with me as I work toward healing. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo May 2015.


I am a woman determined. I have a granddaughter to lift, a camera to use, a life to live.

TELL ME: If you’ve ever had to recover from an illness or an injury, who and/or what motivated you?

© Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


29 Responses to “How a woman of leisure moves toward healing”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    It’s been a long journey but you are making such headway. Hopefully soon this injury will be left behind in the dust.

    • I’m beginning to see clouds of dust. Oh, wait, that was the street sweeper that swept back and forth in front of my house yesterday raising a major duststorm that had me racing to shut windows and pull laundry from the line. Alas, I could not work fast enough. Next time I hope the operator uses water when he sweeps.

  2. My motivation was making those baby steps in the recovery to getting better. I also realized that I had more drive when I took the time to listen to my body when it really needed relaxation or rest to heal. Great News on making progress – You Go Girl!!! Happy Weekend – Enjoy 🙂

  3. Almost Iowa Says:

    Washing windows, eh? You know…..we have windows. Lots of them. 🙂

    Glad to hear you are on the mend.

  4. Karen Says:

    So glad to read of your progress in your therapy, in spite of the pain, doing it with grit; that you have a life to live, a granddaughter to lift. Monday I begin physical therapy for a sprained lumbar and, I’ll be honest, my sedentary lifestyle. At 65 and 69, my husband and I are in the middle of packing up and selling our home in order to move close to 2 of our grandkids, and 2 of our kids. [We also have another daughter/SIL/2 granddaughters in Moorhead, MN]. Along with our change of location, why not start being physically active again? So much life to be lived!! I’ll stay tuned to see how you’re doing, kiddo. :o) Sending hugs from Oregon, but soon to be Washington.

    • Best wishes with your physical therapy. It really does work.

      And how wonderful that you are moving nearer family. I assume you’ve been to Minnesota then with family here, too.

      • Karen Says:

        yup. Last time was in May when our daughter graduated from M State Fergus Falls. Our once yearly-sniff-visit with them. Visit was great, so was weather! My parents were born near Winona and came to CA in 1950. Ive enjoyed your posts about that area. Have been there many times. Love it! Blessings on your day!

      • I understand the “sniff.” My son attended his last three years of college (he started at NDSU in Fargo) at Tufts University in greater Boston. He landed a job with MIT Lincoln Lab there. I last saw him at Christmas. Sigh. But he may be coming home in a few weeks for a family reunion. 🙂 I am hoping some day he will return to the Midwest; but for now, he likes the East Coast.

        My eldest daughter attended Winona State University so I got to know that region of Minnesota well during her four years there. That part of Minnesota with its rolling hills, bluffs and rivers is incredibly beautiful.

        I’m glad you got to see your daughter in May.

  5. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    It sounds as if you are improving very well and with an inspiring attitude.

  6. Don Says:

    Physical therapy, yup been there done that (physical and occupational) and my motivation for all that was family and friends. They put in so much of their time worrying and praying that it was only right that I repaid that by working hard for a full recovery. Life is good.

    Keep up the good work Audrey, it may be painful at times but the rewards oh the rewards………………………….

  7. I’m so glad you are making progress. It’s easy to get frustrated with the slowness of it, but you are doing so well! I have rheumatoid disease and many joints can and have been affected. I’m in a remission at the moment on some heavy meds (immunosuppressants and light chemo–not pain meds). When I flare and moving is painful and the emotional strain of ‘please, not again’ hits, it’s hard to be positive. My family keeps me going and determination to live the life I have to the very fullest is my lifeline–something I see we have in common. Praying for your full recovery and strength to see the process through with patience and perseverance (I think you have it covered, though). Dawn

  8. Littlesundog Says:

    My motivation is of course, that I LOVE what I do outdoors. It’s what we love doing that really gets us moving. I think holding your granddaughter and getting back out there with the camera is the most excellent motivation there is in your case! 😀

    • You have it right. What we love doing motivates us. I hope you’re still doing well, Lori. I got another new set of exercised to do today during therapy. I’m beginning to lift weights, albeit no more than 2 lbs.

  9. Valerie Says:

    What a journey you are on…glad to hear there is improvement. I broke my foot one time but that is nothing like what you are enduring and going through. Keep up the hard work. It sounds like it’s working!

  10. Kathleen Cassen Mickelson Says:

    Keep moving forward, Audrey! Glad you are healing and the physical therapy is working.

  11. Jackie Says:

    YOU GO GIRL!!! It’s so good to hear your progress, I know how hard this has been for you, but your patience has paid off.

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