Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Creating kind words in chaotic times November 6, 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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My vintage Scrabble game. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

GIVEN MY LOVE OF WORDS, I’ve always enjoyed playing Scrabble. But it’s been years since I pulled out my 1970s vintage game to build words on a board. Randy doesn’t like the game. So it sits in the closet, collecting dust.

But let’s imagine for a second that I pulled out that Scrabble game, turned all the letters face down and randomly selected seven to start the game. What words would I form? Could I plan ahead and make the most of my letters to score the most points? I could try. Yet, another player’s actions often change the best thought-out plans.

Much is also left to chance. There’s only so much you can control while playing Scrabble, or most games for that matter. Kind of like life.

“Protect the herd” plays off Northfield, Minnesota’s “Cows, Colleges and Contentment” slogan. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

Like right now we can do everything possible to protect ourselves from COVID-19 (such as wearing masks, social distancing, washing our hands, avoiding crowds, etc.). But we may still contract the virus. That doesn’t mean, though, that we should just give up and resign ourselves to getting COVID. We do have the power, and the responsibility, to try our best—by following health and safety guidelines, by making changes in our behavior and finding ways to improve our health—to possibly fend off the virus. And we need to recognize that our choices and actions affect others. Just like in Scrabble.

The past few days have been difficult ones, not only because of the presidential election, but also because more and more people I care about have either contracted COVID or have loved ones with the virus. COVID cases and deaths here in Minnesota are breaking records. I feel pretty stressed, as I’m certain many of you do.

Displayed at LARK Toys. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

What’s a person to do besides stay the course and seek ways to relieve the building anxiety and stress? Part of the answer rests on the Scrabble board I photographed several years ago at LARK Toys in Kellogg. Be kind.

I can be kind to myself, recognizing that my feelings are valid. And if I feel like I need a handful of dark chocolate chips to help me feel better, that’s OK.

I can also strive to work harder at kindness. I recognize I sometimes fail and miss opportunities to express kindness. I can choose to take my focus off scoring points to creating kind words. That’s my Scrabble analogy.

And just so you know, the one person who always beat me at Scrabble was my mother-in-law, Betty, gone 27 years now She proved a fierce competitor. And I loved her for that.

© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


13 Responses to “Creating kind words in chaotic times”

  1. Washe Koda Says:

    🙂 triple word scores are fun too 😉

  2. Dee Bjork Says:

    My Mom Ruthie was a whip at Scrabble. She would know if the word was “legal” when I tried to sneak something in. She was a master of the English Language. If I said “Mom, do you want to play Scrabble?” She would light up! I miss her so much every day. Much more than I expected after a year of her absence. I always say that is a testament to who you are if people miss you so much. She was a gem.
    A beautiful sunrise with ribbons of pink and orange this morning. Pearl Ann Gray the wonder cat woke me up to see it and of course get up for breakfast. Life is swell at Oslo Way/Norway Lane!
    love u.


    • Oh, Dee, what an absolute joy to hear from you on this beautiful morning here in southern Minnesota. From your description of the sunrise, I can picture that painterly scene viewed from your piece of heaven on Oslo Way/Norway Lane.

      Thanks for sharing about your mom loving Scrabble. What a sweet memory you have of her lighting up at the mention of the word “Scrabble.” I’m sorry for your loss of your dear, sweet mom. I love your comment about missing her being a testament to who she was. I know one thing for certain. She raised beautiful, loving and kind daughters, like you.

      Love you, too, Dee!

  3. Susan Ready Says:

    I loved this blog posting and the scrabble analogies with the call to be kind. Thanks for continuing to get the message out.

  4. I do love a good game of Scrabble or Words with Friends ! I have had a few great words in my lifetime but not as many I would like. 🙂

  5. I love to play Scabble as well, but like you I have a hubby who doesn’t. 🙂

  6. Scrabble- the game that brings families together or humbles my mother (who thinks she knows it all) when my oldest son beat her with his word for a point value that was impressive in any Scrabble game using his q and making it a verb of the word. I think my mom is still pissed to this day over that one game when she was bested by a 16 year old. That same son asked his wife to marry him with the words on a Scrabble Board. I think Scrabble has a way of grounding us in hard times. Thanks for the blog.

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