Sunday, January 21, 2018

What I Learned from 2017 Interviews

One thing I found really intriguing and exciting was a fellow blogger asked me, "What did you learn?" after I shared how much I enjoyed my interviews last year.

It was such a great question, that even though I didn't answer him, lol, it gave me the idea to write about what I learned from EACH interview I conducted last year for my column in Billiard Buzz (you can find all the interviews in one place here).

Cool question, right?

Now, realize these are very personal learning experiences and most do not have anything to do with playing pool.  But it was a profound question that I loved so much, because I really did learn a lot, and so wanted to share.  I'll even share a few quotes from the pieces, some fave answers:

First up in 2017 was my interview with Tony Sulsar.  What I learned from him was how important his Dad was to his game even to this very day, and that he misses his Dad deeply, just like we all miss our parents who have passed.  There are people like me who talk about the loss, and people like Tony who don't talk about it, but feel it.

Next up was Robley Fontenot.  I had wanted to interview him for years, and what I learned from him was no matter your conditions, you always press forward and prevail with all your might.  Don't give up and strive.

Rachel Hurst was the April interviewee and she also had been on my list to interview for years and she did NOT disappoint.  I so love her choice of words and outlook on life and the way she describes things.  Her life is truly amazing from hardship to many radical changes in her careers.  What I learned from her interview was it's okay for me to be an introvert, and to make your home more comfy because of that.  She also has a great perspective about image that I loved and hope you all read how she learned the hard way about image in a woman's body.
"My physical recovery was about a year and it consisted of several surgeries to try to reconstruct my face and scalp from the damage the lathe had caused.  A couple of non-physical symptoms still linger with me 20 years later:  some random vertigo and dizziness, and a somewhat spotty memory. 
The accident had the opposite effect on me, actually.  I looked so hideous and horrible during the recovery period that I lost a lot of the vanity that was actually the cause of the accident in the first place.  I was lucky enough to have people who loved me in spite of the fact that I looked like a cartoon character… so from then on I became far less concerned with whether or not people thought I was physically attractive in general. Women, in particular, struggle with the idea that we’re supposed to be pretty at all times – and it’s not only unrealistic, but it can also be incredibly painful and limiting.  To be unburdened inside in my mid-20s of this idea that I had to look good was a revelation.  Ultimately, that was an enormous gift."
Fred Pankey was showcased in the May issue and he is a 96-year-old pool player!  Can you imagine growing up in The Depression?  It was so cool to hear him talk about how he grew up in that era and all that he's accomplished in his long life.  What I learned from him is how important friends are as you age.
I don’t have any friends my age or in their 90s like me.  My friends in the pool room are getting older, too (he laughs), but, I associate with them and we’ve been friends for 20 or more years. “ 
Next up was custom cue maker Jake Hulsey.  A mentor to many people, my take-away from my interview with Jake was how important it is to have a relationship with your spiritual higher power.  That relationship may even be a bad one, but as long as you have one is what is important.
You’ve had issues with substance abuse and a stint or two in rehab in your lower 20s.  What was your take away from that experience?  
"Very specifically the principles of Honesty, Hope, Faith, Courage, Integrity, Willingness, Humility, Love, Justice, Perseverance, Spirituality, and Selfless-ness.  People have likely heard of the 12 Steps at some point in their life while discussing addiction.  These steps are often discounted or disregarded either because they are not understood or require too much work.  The secret that people don’t get is that each one of the steps has a spiritual (biblical) principal behind it.  Once you GET that principle you will begin to be okay with living life on life’s terms.  Another huge roadblock for me was that I was mad at God and just assumed that I would eternally be cursed for such.  As it turns out, God already knew I was mad and was happy I could finally be honest about it.   At the end of the day, the same problem exists (me).  The difference now is that I’m capable of dealing with situations without blaming others or using something to change the way I feel."

Mike Panozzo was in the July issue - first industry interviewee.  He better feel special!  haha.  He's actually a really good friend to me and gives me great advice (prolly has no idea) and has been a great mentor to me.  What I learned from him from the interview was to enjoy every single day and surround yourself with people worth sharing you passions and enjoyment with.  His perspective about the pool industry was also interesting - and he is correct:  Because the pool industry is so small and not mainstream, pro pool players are reachable.  If pool was mainstream, we wouldn't have the accessibility we have now to them.

Aimee Peterson was next.  What I learned from her was there are so many things a lot of us are going through that we have no idea about.  We have health problems or other pains in life and hardly anyone knows.  And we go through life struggling, but also surviving.  To read Aimee's story about all her health issues is truly eye opening how she can even play the game we love (there's your reason).
"The only comfort I’ve been able to find from the accident was that I must have had a grand purpose that day to save the lives of the two people in the Toyota truck.  I have absolutely no doubt in my mind, that had I not taken the brunt of the initial impact, they both may have been killed in the head on collision.  I also think I got a bit lucky too.  When I was pushed into the intersection, I wasn’t put into the path of the oncoming traffic where I could’ve easily been hit again head on. "
Dennis Hatch was the first professional I interviewed and he didn't disappoint.  I think the thing that surprised me the most was playing pool was chosen for him because of his Dad seeing his natural talent for it. 
"Pool was essentially chosen FOR me as it was what my father (Greg Hatch) wanted most as I was growing up and growing into a career choice. I had a natural talent and he refined it. He loved the game and he molded me to be the best."
Mike Page, the co-creator of Fargo Rate was the October interviewee.  If I am to be honest, I learned how to better my interviews by interviewing him!  I gave him the questions and he rearranged everything, adjusted the questions and turned the piece into a masterpiece.  I could easily see his PhD teaching skills come into place, lol.  I wasn't hurt with him changing things up so much, instead I paid attention to how he asked the questions better.  I was impressed with his career changes in life as well, btw, but it was his ability to really change the interview into a better piece was what I cherished.

Melanie Archer was next and I was so honored to give her a voice.  Most spouses of pool players are not really considered for interviews.  What I learned from her is there are ways to find time to being active in what you want to do.  A lot of us sit around thinking about things we would like to do or are maybe interested in doing - she gets up and does it; does it all!  I also like how she uses social media to share positive things, but also points out we need to put technology down to enjoy our surroundings, the outdoors and traveling.  I also loved this:
Your Mom (who passed in 2005) has a big influence on your life to this day.  Do you have a favorite quote from her you live by?
"“Be True to Thine Own self.”  When I was younger, I really didn’t understand it.  Now that I am older, I totally get it.  It means, be true to you and what you believe.  Don’t conform to this world or what others want you to be.  You were made just the way GOD made you to be.  So be it!  But always continue to grow and become a better version of yourself.  You are the only one who has control over this. "
Don and Mary Akerlow were the final month of the year and I was happy to get to know them better.  Mary is fighting cancer with Don and their love for each other shines through in the piece.  What I learned was how important friends and support on FaceBook are to them during this process.  Also, to get several opinions (not just 1 or 2) and ask many, many questions when fighting cancer.

I enjoyed this so much I will do this again next year for all the 2018 interviews!  Thank you to my friend Dane for asking me the great question to begin with, "Melinda ,what did you learn?"

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