Saying Goodbye and Time for Oaxaca

I suspect that there will be coming posts from me like this one that will express feelings rather than reportage about Oaxaca as I separate from my life’s work in four universities and look to the future.  Please bear with me!  This is the home stretch.  My last official salaried paycheck will be mailed to me on December 22, 2011.  I’m very close to being untethered and on my own.  This is both exhilarating and scary.  I am dealing with a roller coaster of emotions ranging from the excitement of spending more time in Oaxaca and the sadness of leaving people I have worked with over the past 10 years and care for immensely —  staff, deans, donors and faculty.

Last week began a whirlwind of goodbye parties starting with a surprise dinner given by the School of Nursing Foundation Board of Directors.  At the close of the board meeting on the following day they gave me the ultimate parting gift of thanks: an all expense paid trip to Peru.  This was NOT a trip to Peru, Indiana, as I had joked in disbelief after a dear alumna, donor and friend handed me the envelope. She organized this incredible gift that includes a week at a Peruvian resort (I get my choice from one of three locations) to be used whenever I wish.  It was accompanied by a large cashiers check to cover expenses!  I am still speechless and in shock.  My hope is to spend time planning the trip so as to savor the experience and take in all the appreciation that it represents.  This is the most difficult part for me — accepting all the outpouring of gratitude I am receiving now.

Yesterday, my school gave me a goodbye party, attended by three wonderful deans — our current dean, immediate past dean, and the dean who preceded her.  All of our three living deans!  My dear colleague Anne gave the roast and brought me to tears. She testified to how I don’t like or follow rules, bending them when needed so that we are people-centric.  How I have supported her to be flexible in her role as high-performance development officer, mom, and wife.  I hope she will be my successor and I am secure in knowing that the future of the advancement office is in good hands during this transition.

It is important, I have discovered, to know when to leave.  To let the next generation step up to the role they deserve and have worked hard for.   I notice people hanging on well-beyond the time they should have retired (early or not).  They may stay because of the money or because they don’t know what else to do with their lives or because they are committed to a purpose that may no longer be relevant or effective.  For many the fire is gone from their bellies.  Their career peak may have been years earlier.

It is important to know when to leave.  I have examined my own motivations and effectiveness.  I have reassessed how I want to live a creative and meaningful life.  I also know that I have worked hard and achieved much for myself and others.  I have added value to the world and made it a better place.  I am leaving UNC Chapel Hill School of Nursing in good hands and with the promise of a strong future after raising $23+ million.  I feel good about that.

Now, it is time for Oaxaca …. and Peru.

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