This year has been as busy as it’s ever been for me. I’ve been doing a ton of traveling, all while constantly questioning if I should be bringing my babies at extra expense or leave them at home for someone else to do my mommy job. Making time for health and playing pool is as tough as ever because making money and spending time with my kids take priority. I had the chance to be at the APA Team Nationals this week. During my shows, I get to take challenges, photos and sign autographs. My fans get the time to talk to me, ask me questions, share their story and sometimes, share how I inspired them to keep playing because of the obstacles I’ve overcome.
Overcome. Interesting how often I’ve heard that word and how I never feel like it relates to me. It does, of course, but it never feels that way. Why? Because what I’ve gone through never seems over. It goes on and on. After each of my surgeries, my friends would ask, “So, are you done?” “Is that the last one you’ll need?”. I always reply, “I hope so.” And then something else comes up. Some new pain that I’ve never felt before. Right now, it’s a pain and weakness I’ve had since last October in my left arm and shoulder. It’s usually my back or at least it’s related to some kind of joint pain. This one was different. It’s nerve pain through and through. From the bottom of my neck, inside my arm pit and along the inside of my left arm to my finger tips. I have about 50% of my normal strength and a funny bone kind of pain. The fact that it was diagnosed to be something that can’t be cured doesn’t help. But I accepted it and moved on. What choice do I have? And now, the pain is getting worse. So what to do? Make another neurologist appt and move on.
One of the messages I tend to share and repeat is how important it is to be strong through these tough times. Everyone has them. Whether it’s to you or to someone you love dearly, it happens. And we need to be strong. Why? Because the alternative sucks! For everyone…When things happen that we don’t expect or want, it’s easy to feel alone or that you’re the only one it’s affecting. And it’s easy to feel that your world is falling apart. Sometimes, it is. But it’s not about whats happening to you. It’s about what you’re going to do about it.If there’s one thing I learned from having a 20+ year as a world champion, having had 11 surgeries and 6 kids, it’s that you don’t have to feel strong to be strong. In fact, most of the time, the people whom you feel are the strongest, feel weak more often than you think. Sometimes ‘strong’ means just getting out of bed when you don’t want to. Doing the physical therapy, making the tough phone call, listening when you don’t want to hear it. I’m one of the strongest people I know and I can promise you, I haven’t felt strong through ANY of my tough times. I hate being dependent. I hate feeling weak, I hate having to ask for help. I do, but I don’t like it. You just gotta keep going. Doing the things you believe you are meant to do, whether or not you have the energy for it. Why? Because staying in bed, feeling sorry for yourself, watching tv or other people live their lives is the most miserable existence and we are better than that. We are meant to live a life that’s meaningful but you’ll never know when you surround yourself with self-pity. I’m not saying we don’t fall, that we aren’t allowed to cry. I’m just saying you shouldn’t stay there. We all fall. We just need to, in short time, dust ourselves off and keep going. That’s what makes you strong. That’s what allows us to discover what we are meant to do and sometimes, you will finally see, that through your pain, you can inspire others to have strength when they’ve run out of it. They don’t want to see the person with the perfect life. They want to hear from those that haven’t ever gone through anything. It’s us, those that have endured, that have the power, the influence, to change lives. We are not alone, even when we feel that way. We all know pain, suffering, loss, doubt, fear. Some experience it differently than others. I believe in us. I believe in you. But it doesn’t matter what I believe, or even what you believe. It matters that you keep going, never give up on you. Don’t let yourself or others limit you. Don’t focus on what you don’t have. It gets you nowhere. Focus on what you want and take one day at a time and work for it. Then give yourself a hug because we often need it. I love hugs.
This morning, most mornings anymore, I don’t want to get out of bed. My body aches all over and I have so much work to do. I want to have a good future for our family which takes a lot of work in the office and out of town, but I want to enjoy my children now, which takes a lot of time, and this body is so beat up that I’m exhausted by noon. Sometimes I cry because I’m just overwhelmed and don’t know how to keep going. It doesn’t matter. I get up, I do what I can and I enjoy my children. I accomplish more than I think I can. Even the days I feel like I haven’t gotten anything done, I give myself a break and say, Hey, at least I got out of bed! You wouldn’t believe how many don’t. I am surrounded by love by my family and friends, I have the greatest fans in the world, I work in a field that I love and I still have two arms and two legs. I can still make choices, however small. I have a voice that people listen to because I kept going when I didn’t think I could. You don’t have to FEEL strong to BE strong! God bless you all. Discover your strength! It’s there, I promise it is.