Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Looking back to my “firsts” in 2018 December 31, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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THE END OF THE YEAR offers a time for reflection. I could spew generalities about 2018, telling you it was a year of positives and negatives. And that would be true. But it’s a summary nearly anyone might make about 12 months of life.

Instead, I decided to list 10 firsts for me in 2018. They may seem trivial compared to what many of you have done in the past year. But I live a relatively quiet life in what is considered flyover country. And that’s just fine with me. Minnesota that is. And my small town (open to interpretation depending on where you live) life. I’m mostly content here, except when winter starts in October and stretches into April or May. But pros and cons exist wherever you live.

So let’s get to it—that list of 10 firsts for me in 2018, in no particular order.


Randy on the beach outside our lakeside condo timeshare in Detroit Lakes. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo October 2018.


1) Randy and I stayed in a lakeside condo timeshare in Detroit Lakes in west central Minnesota late this fall. (Thanks to friends who offered several days they couldn’t use.) Late October into early November isn’t the best time to visit this resort area with trees stripped of leaves and a brisk wind sweeping across the lake. But our time there proved quiet, peaceful, relaxing. I kind of liked, OK really liked, my first time ever at a lakeside condo timeshare.


A water feature at Olbrich Botanical Gardens, Madison, Wisconsin, Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo May 2018.


2) As long as we’re on the travel topic, this year I discovered Madison, Wisconsin, after my second daughter and her husband moved there last spring. It’s a lovely city of abundant green space and one I look forward to exploring more.


An inside look at VR goggles.


3) Virtual reality took me on another adventure as the son brought his VR goggles home at Christmas and introduced me to a whole new world. Wow. I could go places without going places. It really was an amazing experience. You gotta remember that I grew up without a telephone and a TV (until I was about ten). Virtual reality, now that’s something.




4) I read my first Stephen King novel, Elevation. I’ve always steered clear of King’s books given the genre. But something prompted me to pull this short title from the library shelves. As strange as the storyline, I found some current day truths within and I’ll try another King novel soon. Even though I shied away from his fiction, King’s nonfiction book On Writing rates as my favorite book on the craft of writing.


A graphic illustrating options to consider due to unaffordable health insurance. Our health coverage will cost $1,603/month in 2019 with $4,000 individual deductibles. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


5) Prior to the mid-term elections, I sent my first email ever to my local state representative addressing my concerns about the high cost of health insurance. He never responded. There you go. He didn’t get my vote. If you can’t reply pre-election to a constituent…


Two of my posts published on Warner Press this summer. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2018.


6) This spring I landed my first paid blogging gig. With Warner Press. I’m grateful for the opportunity to further share my writing talents with this Christian publisher. I’ve written greeting card verses for Warner for years.


Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo of a mural in Farmington, Minnesota.


7) I also shared my time and talents this summer by, for the first time, organizing a silent auction fundraiser for a friend in need. You can bet I was humbled and honored to hand my friend a hefty check.


Site of trivia night in Detroit Lakes. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo October 2018.


8) I learned this year that I, for sure, suck at trivia. While vacationing in Detroit Lakes, Randy and I dined at a local pizza joint on trivia night. We decided to join the fun, even enduring the stink eye of another player after Randy responded to a text from our eldest during the game. Apparently that’s a no-no. In all fairness to the host, we were told beforehand that looking up answers on our smartphones constituted cheating. We clearly weren’t cheating given our solo correct answer. Try convincing the guy at the table next to us that we didn’t cheat. We left midway into the second round.


Faribault tourism’s newest billboard along Interstate 35 promotes attractions in our Minnesota community, including the new 10,000 Drops Distillery. Photo edited.


9) A month or so ago, after an evening of theater in Faribault, Randy and I walked a half-block to 10,000 Drops Distillery, our first visit to a cocktail lounge. It won’t be our last, even though we aren’t much for drinking. It was the setting of exposed brick and wood and cozy seating areas designed for conversations that will bring us back. It’s simply a really cool place that you would expect to find in the Twin Cities metro area, not necessarily Faribault. Yes, my city may just surprise those of you who haven’t been here for awhile or who’ve never been here.


A sign marked the location of my granddaughter’s first birthday party in 2017. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo April 2017.


10) Finally, for the first time, I missed my granddaughter’s birthday party. Because of a late April snowstorm. Never mind that Isabelle was only turning two.

There you go…my memorable firsts for 2018.

TELL ME: What firsts happened in your life during the past year?

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


28 Responses to “Looking back to my “firsts” in 2018”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    Great firsts! Here’s to a lot of firsts in 2019 –Happy New Year! (That deserves an !)

  2. A major first for me in 2018 was my job promotion – worked hard for it and well deserved – have not looked back and nice to know I made the right decision for myself 🙂 Happy NYE – Hello! 2019!!!

  3. I love your idea of reviewing your 10 ‘firsts’. 10 new adventures is amazing- well done! This year, my ‘first’ was to put myself ‘first’ in the areas of health and wellness. Happy New Year- see you next year1

  4. Tandem biking & sea kayaking. At 52, I think that is enough excitement.😊 Best wishes in 2019!

  5. Claudette Says:

    This was so enjoyable to read! I wish you a happy New Year 2019. 😊 🇨🇦

  6. Bernadette Says:

    This is a great exercise for reviewing the year. Getting my first poem (the second one I had ever written) published in the Talking Stick was a proud moment for me. My husband and I also thought about new places we had visited including Donner Lake State Park and a new local playground for our granddaughter. Also enjoyed hearing about your experience with a new author and finding some unexpected life observations. Thanks for the year-end challenge!

  7. A nice glimpse into your life, several things of which I was unaware. Happy New Year, Audrey.

  8. Valerie Says:

    This is a fun way to look back at the year. I came up with my own list. Thanks.

  9. Dan Traun Says:

    Congratulations on your new blogging gig. That is wonderful!

  10. A wonderful year of firsts! Wishing you many wonderful blessings and exciting firsts for 2019. Thank you for being a wise inspiration in your writing and photos! Dawn

  11. Littlesundog Says:

    I enjoyed reading this, Audrey. Your story caused me to stop and thing about a few of my own firsts. A good recap is always good and sometimes good for a laugh or two. As in my case – this year was the first time I’ve ever had the police called on me! It was not so funny at the time, but in the days and weeks to follow it was evident that my mother-in-law’s metastasized breast cancer may have reached her brain (it had already progressed to her skin and a lung. In many ways dealing with her cancer has been a difficult journey for Forrest and me, but one where compassion comes forth on many levels. It is a bit of a joke now with the family (to tease me and help me feel better), but at the time I felt quite wronged, and helpless to defend myself.

    • Oh, my, that must have been difficult to have your mother-in-law call the police on you. I cannot imagine you doing anything that would prompt a call to law enforcement. But it sounds like you have forgiven due to the cause. Your compassion seems infinite. May you continue to feel loved and embraced as you love and support your mother-in-law in her final days.

      • Littlesundog Says:

        The thing is, she’s not in her right mind. I’m not the only one she’s accused of hurting her since that happened. We believe she is in a lot of pain and simply gets confused. Thank you for your kind words, Audrey. The world is a better place when we are kind to one another.

      • Yes, kindness truly makes the world a better place.

        How difficult it must be to see your mother-in-law going through all of this.

  12. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    That’s a great way to roundup the year.

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