"they say the owl was a baker's daughter. lord, we know what we are, but know not what we may be." (Hamlet, Act IV, Scene 5)

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Friday, June 21, 2013


I've stuttered, started, and stopped for about a few months now. Feeling ever urgent. That something is different, has changed, and wanting to express it. Give it shape, breathe it life, and make it real with my words. Testify.

But the have words escaped me. They've slipped over my tongue, fell out of my thoughts, and failed to form in my mind. And still this restlessness persists. I can't shake it. Start, stall, stop. Stuck.

I've taken an inventory. I've crossed all the known and familiar emotions off of my list. I'm not any of them. I can't name this new thing I am.

Among other new things in my life I am now a tennis player. I started taking lessons after reading this quote in a New Yorker article:

Atul Gawande, professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School, was watching the Wimbledon tennis tournament on television when he saw star Rafael Nadal's coach urging him on from the sidelines. If one of the world's greatest tennis players has a coach, Gawande asked himself, why shouldn't doctors and teachers?
I was so taken by this observation that I went on to read Gawande's book, Better. It may may have changed my life.

I started taking lessons because I wanted to become a better learner. I wanted to teach myself to be coachable. I wanted to see what could happen if I stopped resisting instruction. I wanted to experience how good I could become if I knew how to hear advice as guidance rather than criticism. In short, I wanted to become better--not just on the tennis court, but in my life. And maybe that's what is happening.

I'm working on my serve. My coach has told me to throw the toss, coil, arch my back, and then shift my weight through my hips, until all of the momentum in my body pulls me forward. It sounds complicated. It sounds like a lot to do in a short moment of time. And in the past, former versions of Jeannette would have backed off probably. Resisted. Stopped before trying. But I'm learning. And I'm getting better. And I'm forgiving myself when I miss. And I'm trying again. And again. And again. And maybe that's what is happening. Approach. Toss. Lean. Shift. Hips. Hit.

Exactly three years ago, in my professional life, I started something new. And today, exactly three years later, I stopped doing it. Powered down, stood up, walked away, and badged out. Good-bye to this space, farewell to this time. I'm on to something different. I'm off to a new challenge. I'm letting the momentum I've built pull me forward. I'm learning to learn. I'm learning to lean. And the hips won't lie.

Over the past few weeks, many people have asked me if I am excited for what's next. Am I nervous about where I'm going? And I'm not. I'm neither of those things. And until this very moment, I didn't know how to describe what I am or what emotion has been swirling for the past few months. But I know now.

This new thing I am. It is not excited. It is not nervous. It is ready. This is what readiness feels like. I am both humble, and assuming, enough to believe that I can be better. And I am ready.