Monday, May 15, 2017

Stepping Away Explanation

I'm finding it more and more difficult to convince people I'm really not competing in pool anymore lol.  I have written about this several times already:

I am surprised I first wrote about this in 2015!  Wow!

And, yes, the last two years have been really nice not competing regularly in tournaments or leagues.  :)

Just in the last two weeks. however, I was asked by GREAT players (in and out of state) if I wanted to play in Vegas at BCAPL Nationals. When I said thank you (a sincere thanks!) and then said I don't play league anymore, they pointed out I don't need to play in league for scotch doubles or singles at BCAPL Nationals.  I then had to explain I just don't play pool that much anymore.

And two weeks ago I was asked to join a top women's team.  Makes me smile to be considered!

However, it's just tough to explain why I don't play pool anymore.

Friends say, "Oh you're just burned out.  You'll be back."

No, not burned out - this isn't a temporary thing.

"Why would you stop playing?  You love the game and play so good.  You'll come back after a break."

No, I don't see it that way - I don't think I want to return to competing.  I don't see this as a "break."

"Yea, right, you're not stepping away from pool."

Well, yes, I really am!

You see... I've changed.  I have played pool in smoky pool rooms for over 25 years.  I have stayed out late, been exhausted at work, spent too much money, dealt with drama, and had to manage mental toughness all those nights/days of all those years playing leagues and tournaments.  I've also won many coveted titles, formed great friendships, made amazing memories, and learned a lot about myself competing!

It may sound silly, but hear me out.  When we get into our 40s, we finally figure out instead of "dealing" with people or things, we can just simply decide not deal with the people or things.  Our tolerance gets lower as we age.  And it hit me hard in my mid 40s.  But, the timing was perfect. :)

I don't want to be around drama anymore.  I don't want to have to be mentally tough all the time.  I don't want the commitment to have to play every week.  I'm drained from all the emotions and mental toughness that come with competing.

So, let me state all this more positively so you see I'm not whining, but in reality, wanting more:

I want to be around people who lift me up.  I want to do new things that bring me peace and happiness.  I want to have the choice to play pool when I have the urge to play.  I like being more calm and in less pressure situations.

I explained to a friend who has played pool his whole life how I have the choice to compete or not, and I like this choice because it is actually pretty tough to be mentally strong all the time.  It takes a lot of will power and inner strength and control to not get upset about things around you when you are playing.  He confided, "If pool wasn't my side income, I would quit too. And not have to deal with all that, either.  I have considered that before - less anxiety and less time getting upset."

I could play a tournament and go through a ton of emotions and feelings having to deal with situations.  Sure, my mental toughness got real good the last few years!  But, can you imagine the happiness I feel that I can go through a weekend and not have to be mentally tough or try to handle distractions, emotions, and chaos that can come from competing?  I can walk in a new park, hike in a beautiful spot, get things done around the house peacefully, visit locations I had to put aside before because of tournaments.

I have that choice to not be in a smoky pool room.  To instead be outside in the fresh air enjoying nature, getting some sun, and getting exercise.  What drama comes with that?  Instead, I get inner peace and no turmoil (unless I trip and fall or something lol).

I think it's VERY important to point out that I 100% know that if I had not been so successful in my pool journey the last few years, that I would still be competing.  I am a BCA and ACS State Singles Champion, a 3-time Scotch Doubles BCA State Champion, and a 9Ball Singles National Champion.  I've won countless league playoffs, was the clutch for several teams, and won 6 National Women Team Events.  If I hadn't won all these titles, I WOULD still be competing.

But, instead, I am going out on a high note.  I joke I'm like Michael Jordan, going out on top of his career, but people remind me, "you're no Michael Jordan, Melinda."  Bitches.  lol.

I am still involved in pool, though.  Just because I no longer compete in leagues or regularly in tournaments, I still ADORE writing in my blog, am a monthly columnist for Billiard Buzz conducting interviews (a dream of mine), contribute to a billiard radio show (American Billiard Radio) about twice a month, give lessons (highlight of my life), and also run a large billiards tour, the Omega Billiards Tour (another dream).  So, I'm still around pool, just stepping away from competing so I can have more peace and a better, healthier lifestyle - physically and mentally.

Have I been happy?  Yes.  Do I miss playing?  Only sometimes.  Am I more productive at work?  Absolutely.   Do I enjoy getting sleep and not smelling like smoke?  YOU BET.  Do I like saving money.  Yes!  Am I still going to Vegas?  Of course!  I take at least two trips a year.  Are you loving life?  Yes.  :)

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