Live United: 2022 will be a time to make new choices, live and heal

Published 8:00 pm Thursday, December 30, 2021

Live United by Erin Haag

I was reminded recently that the legislative session will be starting, which means a temporary pause to my weekly columns. Add that to the fact this is a New Year’s article, the article both saying goodbye to 2021 and hello to 2022, and well, I realized that’s even more pressure than a Christmas Eve/Day article.

Erin Haag

First, the housekeeping of information. For the month of January, our office hours will be 9 a.m. to noon Monday through Thursday. Staff will be in the office beyond those hours, but not necessarily available for walk-ins or phone calls as often as our work takes us into the community or in the back storeroom. Now that the rush of the last Winter Gear Drive distribution, Sparkle and the unofficial family adoption program has settled down, we’re into the days of the backend work. This is the season of data entry, of cleaning house, of the paperwork filing and preparing of budgets and audits and such. 

It’s stuff that doesn’t inspire articles as much, but is a quiet time of reflection, of preparation, of future dreaming. Nikolle’s going to pin us down for the vision board we keep talking about. We throw around ideas as we work, but we haven’t taken the time to sit down over a meal and truly focus on dreaming yet. That time is coming. 

As my husband drove the miles from Minnesota to Kansas and back again, I ruminated on what I wanted this year to be, both personally and professionally. One part of me kept remembering the joke that’s been going around about 2022. “Dear 2022. I don’t want any trouble from you. Come in, sit down and don’t touch anything.” There are variations of this, some with a bit more colorful language. Given how the last couple weeks of 2021 are going — I’m a little on board with that sentiment. 

You see, my little ones have coughs, colds, a potential asthma diagnosis and a badly sprained wrist. We’ve been rescheduling medical appointments so we an make the other medical appointment that takes priority. Thankfully, we have normal icky germs, not COVID-related. Yet, holiday plans had to be adjusted, and my husband and I are joking that we should go back to work to get away from our snotty son. Too bad we can’t leave the children to fend for themselves — they’re not quite old enough for that. Then there’s the impending sense of doom that those germs are headed my way. 

I’ll admit to some grief, too. There’s truly no other word for it — grief that we have to reschedule our celebration with grandparents, and an overwhelming fatigue. Wait a minute! This was supposed to be the week of joy, the week of rest and relaxation and restoring the soul. As I look out over the cold winter fields, resigned to staying isolated, and searching for the optimism that should herald in a new year, I considered a poem that was written by Kitty O’Meara at the beginning of the pandemic. 

“And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently. And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal. And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.”

While this was directed at the pandemic, this poem has resonated with me for a long time as belonging to the holiday season. For me, it wraps up so much about the hope, joy, grief and the dreams of the future. I suppose, since this family is staying home, it wraps up the icky germs that invaded our home as well. 

So 2022. While I don’t want any trouble from you, I’m going to make new choices, dream more images and create new ways to live and heal the earth. Or Freeborn County anyway. With that, here is my invitation for you. We’re searching for board members to join us, or committee members who would like to be a part of the organization in 2022. Some dreams are already taking shape and need a little more love and tender care to make it real. Some of those dreams require nothing more than voices at the table, which is beautiful because it means no experience needed. We’re looking for those who have never been on a board before. If you’re interested in learning more, but maybe the full board isn’t quite for you, then we have committees. Learn more on our website at or call our office at 507-373-8670. There are all kinds of opportunities to help us dream in 2022, and turn create new ways to live united. 

Erin Haag is the executive director of the United Way of Freeborn County.