Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Friends Away From the Pool Table

I remember very vividly I had to play Vivian Villarreal in a pro tournament (the Ultimate 10-Ball Challenge) here in the Dallas-area about 6 years ago.  I wasn't playing top pool back then, but I could still hold my own at times.

I knew Vivian was going to defeat me.  She was a pro and I was barely an amateur lol.  But Vivian and I are friends - she grew up in San Antonio and so did I and we've been friends FOREVER.  I even used to be her webmaster, so this isn't my imagination that we are friends, people!

So when I saw we had to play each other, I felt very calm going into the "pro arena" knowing I'd be playing a friend my first match and it really helped my nerves.  I looked at her more of a friend than a top WPBA Pro Player.  I also secretly thought to myself that she would be easy on me because we were friends.  You know, not really torture the newbie, be kind to me.

I was wrong.

Dead wrong!

She NEVER let up!  She treated me like everyone else - someone she needed to get through to win the title.  I was merely a stepping stone, not at all a friend.



I think I lost 9-1 or something.  I wasn't too embarrassed for losing so badly, but I admit I had really hoped for like a 9-5 score where she would not play so tight a few games and I could get more beads on the score board, but OH NO.

I wasn't embarrassed, though, because I had been too busy watching this master on the table.  She wasn't timid, she was confident, she was making shots and getting in line - I was in awe.  And I was grateful to witness it so close (even if I was her opponent getting beat lol).

The thing is, she did EXACTLY what she was suppose to do.  We aren't friends on the table.  We hugged before and after, but that was it - it was all business - as it should be.

I had incorrectly assumed she would be "nice" to me.  And yet she should do no such thing!  And, she knows this.  There is no friendship - and she plays pool for a living and can't be trying to be nice to the amateurs in tournaments!  She needs to make that money, play tight.

I find it interesting I had these thoughts back then.  I was so na├»ve for sure!  When I was on top of my game, I'd rather her play tight and try and beat me 9-0!  Instead, as a newbie and a VERY green amateur, I had hoped for a bit of saving face, lol.

Great lesson she taught me that day!

Friday, April 13, 2018

Deciding to Play or Not

I had an opportunity to play scotch doubles back in March. Are you ready for all the details of it?

Are you sure?

Okay, here it goes!

I chickened out.


You see, I'm not in denial. I don't play like I used to because I'm not competing anymore. Sure, I have moments of greatness when I do play, but it's nothing like it used to be.

As a matter of fact, I didn't throw in the towel right away when the opportunity arose. I actually waited to see how I would play when I gave a lesson (remember, I don't watch my client's play and then point to what they should do, I spar with them and we talk about all our options). I told myself, "If you play good, go ahead and play in the scotch doubles event."

Well, I played FANTASTIC! I always find myself surprised when I play good, lol. It reminds me that because my fundamentals were so solid toward the end of my career, they still are.

But I'm not fooling myself. That's practice. Put me on the stream table competing and my mental toughness is thrown out the door and I play like my arms are wobbly and I'm paddling like crazy in a sinking boat, lol. I just don't play enough anymore to be a threat. And I'm okay with that - I'm actually much happier! But I also don't want to put myself through the angst trying to play well.

One of my exes went through this and stated, "My lack of confidence and struggling is just making me not have fun. I guess I should just accept this fate of sucking since I don’t practice, but I’d rather just quit than accept being less than. "

Boy, do I hear those words! I'd rather be doing less stressful things in my life than trying to play well, when I know I can't anymore. Life is short, right?

Don't get me wrong - pool is a beautiful sport! And I played for 25 years competitively.

However, the fact I struggled and debated so much with the idea of should I play or not, is the true answer: I was too apprehensive to play.

Just like with many decisions in life, if we can't decide on something and are struggling with what to do (or not to do) then that usually means we don't really want to do it. In other words, if we have no hesitation and are excited, then that means we really want to do that something. Too much "should I?" or "do I want to?" usually means deep down we don't want to.

Now peeps, don't tell me to start practicing and don't tell me to start playing more. I don't want to. I'm actually much happier stepping away.

Athletes in top sports still compete even though they aren't in their prime anymore. But they have sponsors and are being paid to show up....hmm, those things aren't knocking at my door for some reason lol.

So, when the opportunity comes up to play or compete, am being realistic. And that reality for me is I don't play like I used to, and that makes it stressful, which is one of the main reasons I stepped away. Who needs more stress? hahaha

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Blog Has Grown With Me

I find it interesting the path my blog has taken in the last 12 years.

I went from simple stats after a tournament, to pain-staking-details-to-the-reader of every match during my tournaments, to lessons learned, to giving tips, to sharing things I experienced, to insights/observations, to leadership, to people and feelings.

The blog has grown with me. From the fish out of water trying to play pool, to the confident, more honest person one sees today.

I used to not share the details of my personal life and feelings in my blog, now I am an open book and share things a lot more than I ever expected I would. From the depressing or tough learning experiences to the feelings we go through during defeat. I also talk more about "life" things, ie. even death. I love how my blog has evolved from "who is this girl?" to "look at that woman."

Life is about learning from our experiences, and making experiences happen. Not sitting around thinking of our dreams, but going for them.

Look at your own pool journey. You aren't the same immature player/person, you are more mature, too. Don't you just love yourself more? I do. And you should, too!

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Grandson Got His Own Cue

I wrote before how I had run across 3 generations of pool players back in December.  Here is the photo of Grandpa, son and grandson:

When I gave a lesson back in February, I saw them again.  I went up to them (they were on the non-smoking side of the pool room) and said my hello's.  I told them I had indeed posted their photo on my blog and they were excited.

Then the grandson exclaims to me, "And since that photo, I got my own cue!"

"Oh, did you!?" I asked.

In December, he borrowed one of his Dad's cues for the photo op.

I asked what kind he got and he proudly shared, "Gator."  I asked, "Gator?"  "Yep, Gator by Champion," he said smiling.

Nice selections and good looking cue:  check them out for yourself.

We all remember our first cue!  How cool for him :)

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Tighter Pool Family

Charlie Smith, who I interviewed for the March edition of Billiard Buzz posted this on social media:

"I want to thank Melinda Bailey for the article she did on me in Billiard Buzz. To be considered was an honor for me as an average pool player and individual. Melinda Bailey did a great job in asking the questions and the whole writing of the article. If you ever have the privilege of being ask to let her interview you, do it. The more we learn about our friends and their struggles in life and playing pool make the pool world a tighter family, IMHO. I think Melinda Bailey missed her calling by not being an Professional Interviewer.

Thanks again Melinda Bailey!"

While the thanks should really go to HIM for allowing us into his personal life, he makes a really cool point that the more we learn from our friends and their struggles in life, make the pool world a tighter family.

I couldn't have said it better myself, so wanted to share it here.

I hadn't thought of this aspect and I love it!  I share the interviews so we can learn from each other, but hadn't realized the additional benefit of it propelling the pool community into a tighter family.  He is spot on.

Thank YOU, Charlie!

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

What Have I Been Up To?

Everyone keeps asking me how I'm doing since they don't see me play pool anymore or run a big tournament in the Dallas/Fort Worth-area.  Well, I'm doing great!

Still blogging (as you can see), still doing interviews for Billiard Buzz (which I LOVE), still contributing to the billiards radio program (Mike Howerton still grilling me on air), but also doing things away from the pool room.

Here's a taste:

Volunteered for the Cowtown Clean Up:


Shooting guns:

I'm going to Florida next week for work.  Someone asked me, "You stopping by the pool room?"  Uh, no.  In the evenings after my work day, I am going to walk along the beach a lot and maybe find some parks to walk along.

I also just joined a 10-month class (one day a month for 10 months) to become a Certified Citizen Forester!  I'm super excited about helping out the community once I become officially certified.

I've also been asked to help with ACS Nationals, so I will be out there in Vegas during May helping out.  I am so honored to be considered as part of their team to help run this national event!

I am also going to be a guest speaker at the end of the month.  The program is entitled, "Practical, Logistical and Emotional Support For the Caregiver of the Chronically Ill" and I am a panelist, due to my experience with taking care of my Mom for so many years and helping run the Coalition of Quality of End of Life Care in Fort Worth, Texas.

So, been busy and will be busy with upcoming events.

However, as comes with every day activities, some things do arise, like this cute little gash and bruise:

Turns out large guns have kickback I wasn't expecting.  I was using a 308 Howa.  Whatever that means lol.  Means nothing to me, except I noticed the bullet was huge.  One review says, "the 308 round is deadly efficient and while having legendary precision accuracy performance at longer ranges."  And I can attest to the accuracy of the close range to noses as well haha!  I would find out later this is pretty common and affectionately referred to as a "scope kiss."  lol

I didn't break my nose and didn't need stitches, so I was fine.  However, one of my friends pointed out, "Bet you never came back from a pool tournament looking like that...lol"

LOL!  Hahaha!  :-/