Life in 2021, A Year of Transformation*

The year 2021 has been another look at how the COVID pandemic and my retirement is changing my life and the life of those to whom I am connected. I can think of several items from this year that I consider worth discussing:

  • Pandemic awareness
  • Vaccine clinics volunteer work
  • Community Leadership Development Program termination
  • Mankind Project New England Area leadership efforts
  • History passions pursued

Pandemic awareness

In March 2021 it was one year since interpersonal connections were drastically reduced as the result of efforts to ‘socially distance’ during COVID19 Pandemic. At that time I wrote a blog titled One Year in a Pandemic which anticipated the day when both my wife and I, and much of the world was vaccinated. My focus then was on our vaccination, while my focus now is on understanding the impact of a large percentage of the world’s population not being vaccinated, and the result of a SARS-CoV2 variant, called Omicron, that is highly transmissible, and possibly much less infectious, resulting in more positive cases, but fewer symptoms, hospitalizations and fatalities. May this mean COVID looks more like a cold?

In the process of becoming more aware of what this pandemic meant, this year I have sat in on a course in virology offered by Vincent Racaniello, watched many episodes of This Week in Virology also hosted by Dr. Racaniello, listened to the Chirp version of the book Influenza by Jeremy Brown, and volunteered to help at vaccine clinics (see below).

I have written a blog about measurement of COVID cases.

Vaccine Clinics Volunteer Work

Prior to being vaccinated, I recruited several people in my community in Bellingham, Massachusetts to assist people who needed help getting vaccinated. We helped about fourteen people make first and second appointments, get rides to their appointments, and even support them if they had any concerns about the vaccinations. This effort included getting a flyer out to about 400 residents in the community, using the internet and calling to help people get an appointment, working with the town manager and State Representative to find appointments for people for whom we could not find appointments in the early days of vaccination, and coordinating rides for people to their appointments.

After being fully protected by the Moderna RNA vaccine in mid-April, I began volunteering for the vaccination clinics through the Medical Reserve Corp of Grafton, Massachusetts. I put in 48 hours at eight clinics in Uxbridge, Upton and Northborough, Massachusetts. I was either directing people where to go, helping people make their second appointments (my favorite volunteer job), or checking people out on the State vaccination system.

The need for volunteers for large clinics was over by June. More recently I have been helping vaccinate children at five schools in Worcester, Massachusetts where I have administered the check-in process and associated paperwork to ensure these vaccinations get recorded by the State.

Community Leadership Development Program termination

For the past three years, starting in the summer of 2018 I have been working with as many as three others to organize Community Leadership Development Program (CLDP) Monthly Sessions for the purpose of discussing community leadership as an affiliated activity of the Mankind Project (MKP) Mid-Atlantic Area. This past summer, with the urging of MKP USA leadership, two others and I discussed transforming our CLDP Monthly Sessions into a monthly leadership discussion circle. After three months of considering this option, I decided that I no longer wanted to be part of this effort, and without me, the CLDP would not start up with a new season of Monthly Sessions in 2021-2022. The main reason for my decision was that this effort was not serving my interest to be better connected with men in the Mankind Project.

Over the three years we provided a total of thirty Monthly Sessions including six practicums. To show the scope and depth of these sessions here is a list of the titles, who gave them, and when they were given (links to be provided later):

  1. A demonstration of how Zoom breakouts can be used – October 2018
  2. How to do a brainstorming session – November 2018
  3. Building consensus around a vision statement – January 2019
  4. Building and engaging work teams, Thomas Griggs – February 2019
  5. Leading with vulnerability – March 2019
  6. The use of boundaries in leadership – April 2019
  7. Holacracy as a leadership style – May 2019
  8. Introduction to CLDP – September 2019
  9. Purpose, Vision and Mission – November 2019
  10. Being Accountable – December 2019
  11. Power and Leadership, Cal Simone – February 2020
  12. Shadow in Leadership, Cal Simone – March 2020
  13. Energy in Leadership, Cal Simone – April 2020
  14. Conflict Management, David Kaar – May 2020
  15. Leadership Roles, Dexter Fox – June 2020
  16. Living Your Mission by Leading, Randy Marks – September 2020
  17. Building Resiliency, Alain Hunkins – October 2020
  18. Leading with Heart, Marion Little – November 12, 2020 & March 2021
  19. Being a more loving and trusting leader, Ron Henderson – December 2020
  20. Working with the Enneagram, Cal Simone – February 2021
  21. Exploring our Personas and Idealized Self-Images, Kent Peterson – March 2021
  22. Shadow of Leadership 2: Power, Control and More, Cal Simone – April 2021
  23. Conflict Management Styles, Tom Caruso – May 2021
  24. Leadership Self-Assessment, Robert Fisher – July 2021

Mankind Project New England Area Leadership Efforts

With the decision to terminate my efforts with CLDP, I decided to get more involved in two roles that would give me an opportunity to better serve the men in MKP, as well as to be better connected with these men. In October I stepped into two roles:

  • MKP NE Area New Brother Coordinator
  • MKP NE Area Greater Boston Community Coordinator

MKP NE Area New Brother Coordinator – In this role I sit on the MKP NE Area Council and has responsibility for helping men, who are interested in MKP trainings and men’s circles. I become aware of most of these men via a spreadsheet log of inquiries from men indicating an interest in being contacted by someone in the New England Area so they can find more information about men’s circles and trainings. I follow up with a personalized template response, and if they reply I help them further. If I don’t hear back I follow up within a reasonable period of time. Sometimes these men will schedule a time to talk to me to ask questions about MKP, and then I find out how I can further assist them.

MKP NE Area Greater Boston Community Coordinator – In this role, I develop the circles, events and communications within the MKP NE Area Greater Boston (GB) Community. My intention is to work closely with the men who represent each of the eight circles in the GB Community, i.e., circle reps. I have already met in-person or via Zoom call with four of the eight circle reps, and have begun scheduling times when I can come visit with each of their circles. I would like to get a sense of the health of these circles, and get ideas from men in the GB Community about how to increase a sense of community in the GB Community. Also as part of this role I have been encouraging the MKP NE Area Steward to build better communication with other Community Coordinators, by supporting the creation of a Community Coordinator Circle. The Steward has now had two meetings of this Circle, and he is building interest in its utility for strengthening communication with men in the MKP NE Area.

History passions pursued

I’ve been doing a lot of reading this past year, much of it about history. All the books were listed in a recent blog called Books of 2021. I found myself reading within the following categories of history:

  • World or European history (4 books);
  • Italian history (4 books) including two about Sicilian history;
  • U.S. History (4 books) including two about U.S. Racism;
  • Medical history (4 books) including the classic The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin;
  • Science Fiction (3 books) including 2 Dune Series books, the original by Frank Herbert and the first in the prequel series;
  • Economics history (3 books) with particular enjoyment of Death of a Banker by Ron Chernow, one of my favorite authors; and of course
  • The classics (4 books)

Some of the insights that I have gained were documented in blogs that I have written this year:

* This post will stand in for my Annual Letter; however, unlike that letter, I do not mention family members and focus on my experience during the year. My family members have their own desire to communicate or not about their experience, and I have not been given permission to share that information

Author: T.P. Caruso

Retired from a healthcare and biomedical research career and now enjoying connections with anyone interested in history, geneology, healthcare, leadership or consciousness.

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