One of my favorite books is Ovid’s Metamorphoses, an epic verse collection of some 250 myths of transformation – Daphne turning into a laurel tree, Pygmalion’s statue into a woman. I’ve always been fascinated with these stories, and the question of transitional stages. When does Arachne stop being a human and start being a spider? When did my sons stop being boys and become men? At what point on the state line have I left Wisconsin and entered Minnesota?
As I go through my own major career and personal transition, I suppose it’s natural to be ruminating a bit on this. Transitions are hard and generate complex emotions. I’ve heard the word “bittersweet” far too many times in the past few months, but I haven’t really come up with an adequate substitute. For many of the figures in Ovid’s work, transformation was forced on them and it’s all downside. There’s nothing bittersweet about being turned into a boar by an angry sorceress. In my case, leaving Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin for Children’s Minnesota was a choice, and not an easy one. I have treasured many things about my over 16 years here, both the many individuals I have come to work with and know and love, and the organization as a whole. Many organizations have a statement of values; few truly live them. CHW is one of them. I will miss it here.
Looking ahead, I am heartened by the fact that my new professional home appears to be every bit as values-driven as my current one. (Actually, that was a prerequisite to accepting the job.) And I’ve discovered a one-to-one mapping of the values. At CHW our first value is Purpose, acting in service to patients and families. In Minnesota, it’s Kids first. Collaboration translates to Join together. Integrity is encapsulated in Listen, really listen and Own outcomes. And finally, the Minnesota value of Be remarkable – defined in part as “We are innovators, reimagining health care and going beyond what’s expected” – corresponds with the Wisconsin values of Innovation and Health, or being at our best. No wonder it feels like such a great fit!
So back to that question of transformation – when do I stop being a Wisconsinite and start being a Minnesotan? (Let’s leave sports teams out of this: I will continue to root for the Packers and Badgers. Full stop.) Perhaps that’s an irrelevant question. One thing we’ve learned as a society in recent years is that many seemingly categorical things, including race and gender, are less discrete and more fluid than previously believed. Maybe Arachne kept part of her humanness even when she transformed into a spider. My sons are no doubt both boys and men. And I’ll undoubtedly carry some of Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin with me to Children’s Minnesota.