Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

On the road to recovery, an update June 9, 2017

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“I DON’T LIKE YOU,” I told him.

“Most people don’t,” he answered.

And we both laughed. Laughed because I really did like him and he wasn’t to blame for the bad news he shared. As a former journalist, I understand well the habit readers have of blaming the messenger. And now I was doing that to a medical professional.


The bruising on my injured right arm has decreased considerably on the front with the bruising (not shown here) shifting to the back of my elbow.


What could I do except joke and laugh when my ortho doctor on Wednesday afternoon revealed that total healing and recovery time from my broken shoulder could stretch up to 16 weeks? That’s four more than he told me during our initial visit two weeks ago. Sigh.

And then, as we chatted about the elbow flexing and pendulum exercises I am now doing at home, I found myself in a bit of trouble. I had been doing more than three flex sessions and arm swings daily. “More is not better,” he said, noting that he had me pegged as someone who would do just that. More. Busted.

I like my doctor. He has a great sense of humor, empathy and a personality that is down-to-earth approachable and friendly. I never feel rushed with him. He listens and he answers. And I’m trying to abide by his admonition to “stop when it hurts.” I’m trying, like he says, to rest. I don’t want my bone break, which widened a bit to 2.8 millimeters, to crack wider. Shoulders apparently take a long time to heal.

After that bit of news yesterday, I felt a tad discouraged. But then, because I can choose to be positive, I remembered his words of “everything looks good” upon viewing my latest x-rays. Good is good.

Good is also the continuing encouragement of family and friends. My eldest daughter sends me photos of my granddaughter nearly daily and that makes me happy. I used Google Hang-outs for the first time the other day and that was great, to see and hear darling Isabelle.


My friend Kathleen sent a lovely vintage card along with the sweetest message. The thing about the card is the specific selection just for me. Kathleen knows I have chosen hope as a focus word in my life. Long before this accident. She remembered.



And then Thursday afternoon, I received a bouquet of sunny yellow and white daisies from my sister Lanae and her husband, my niece Tara and her husband and their baby and the couples’ cats.



And recently I received a handcrafted metal cross from my artist friend Steve, who in his own quiet and creative way offers such encouragement and support.

We all have our burdens to bear in life. That’s a given. I don’t care who you are. But we are not alone. It is in times like this that I fully realize the importance of being there for each other—whether through a card sent, a word spoken, a gift given, a bouquet of flowers sent, prayers offered, well wishes written.

Thank you, dear readers, for being here for me. I will continue to update you occasionally on my recovery.

Have a wonderful weekend and take the time today to encourage someone inside or outside your circle who is going through a difficult time.

© Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


You matter February 27, 2017

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THE IDEA SEEMS simple enough. Post a sign that will uplift and encourage others. Yet it was so unexpected, which pleased me even more.

I love discovering sweet surprises that make my day or shift my mood or restore my faith in the goodness of others.

Of all places, I spotted this sign in the women’s restroom at Buckham Memorial Library in Faribault. The pointing finger and the bold words, YOU MATTER, grabbed my attention as I stood drying my hands under a blower.

And although I didn’t tear off a slip of paper, I read the messages:




You are LOVED.


You are AMAZING.

I noticed several messages missing. And I considered how those words of encouragement, of validation, of praise may have affected those who took those slips.

We need more of this in today’s crazy world. We need to shift the focus away from ourselves to caring for others. Genuinely caring. It doesn’t take much effort. Just a few words posted on a sign in a public restroom, a few kind words spoken or encouraging words written can change a person’s day. We all need to hear sometimes that we matter, that we are loved and valued.

TELL ME: What easy ideas do you have (or have you seen) to uplift others? I would love to hear.

Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


Hoping on November 6, 2015

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My great niece Kiera painted this stone, which I got at a recent family reunion.

My great niece Kiera painted this stone, which sits on my office desk as a reminder of hope.


Thank you, Patty Wetterling, for reminding me of that when you spoke to the media this week. For 26 years, Patty and her husband, Jerry, and their family, plus an entire nation, have hoped for the safe return of their son, Jacob. The 11-year-old was abducted in October 1989 by a masked gunman near their St. Joseph, Minnesota, home. Last week law enforcement named a “person of interest” in the case.

Inspirational quotes posted on my desk, on the shelf above my desktop screen.

Inspirational quotes posted on my office desk include a quote by poet Emily Dickinson, right.

In January, I chose “hope” as my word for 2015, following the example of my sweet friend Beth Ann, who blogs at It’s Just Life.

Pulling out my thesaurus, I find these synonyms for the verb, hope: aim, intend, plan, have it in mind, aspire, expect, look for, wish for, want.

To that list I might add trusting, believing that things will get better.

Hope can be elusive when the stresses and challenges of life overwhelm. It is easy to lose hope if difficult situations persist, when burdens weigh heavy upon your heart and days.

But then I hear statements like “Hope is a verb,” spoken by a mother who long ago had every reason to give up hope. Yet, Patty Wetterling has endured, taken action and continued to hope for answers in the disappearance of her son.

During their statement to the media this week, the Wetterlings emphasized the importance of the community in sharing information to help solve the case. Community. The community of Minnesota and beyond has supported the Wetterlings through this entire horrible ordeal spanning more than a quarter of a century.


Hope logo


Support is essential. Without support, hope flounders. Locally, I need only consider Hope Center, which helps and supports victims/survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. There’s that word, hope, centering the Center’s name.

We all need family and friends who have our backs during difficult times—listening, encouraging, praying for, being there without judging or thinking they have all the answers or putting the focus on themselves rather than your needs.

Songs of Hope performers present a selection from India.

Songs of Hope performers present a selection from India during a summer concert at River Bend Nature Center in Faribault. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2014.

A year ago, I heard hope during a concert by Songs of Hope, a group of students from a St. Paul-based international performing arts summer camp. These singers from around the world performed with the enthusiasm of youth believing that world peace is possible. Their energy and passion showcased hope. Such positivity inspires hope.

Take in the details: the red and blue bench, the double front doors, the rock out front...

The Hope Post Office has closed since I took this photo several years ago.

In southern Minnesota, just off Interstate 35 south of Owatonna, you’ll find a small town named Hope. A place. A proper noun, not a verb.

Hope. Noun or verb. It’s a powerful word, if only we believe it to be. You can offer hope to others by listening, by giving of your time and talents and financial resources, by caring, by showing compassion, by simply being there. Hold a confidence entrusted to you. Check in with someone facing a difficult situation. Care. Emulate hope.

TELL ME, how do you offer hope or hold onto hope?

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling