As I sit here in my home office riddled with half finished projects and papers not so neatly stacked on every surface of my desks, that’s right I have two, I am forced to take a deep breath, sigh it out, and remember what I am grateful for; and to whom.
It’s been 38 days since my last “confession”, just kidding, I am not catholic, however every time I sit down to write one of these blogs it feels exactly like that. A confession. Everyday I go about my day living my life to the best of my ability, doing what I think is right, what I was taught was right, and sometimes failing in my strive for perfection. Shocker, I know, I am not perfect. Thank God. Thank God that I am not perfect because otherwise I wouldn’t be able to experience the amazing learning opportunity of life. Thank God that none of us are. And yet, we still try.
My life consists of more facets than the diamond on my trigger ring finger. Funny story how I ended up having a trigger finger ring, I am sure one day it will come up. Back to the facets of my life just in the time since my last blog.
I went to Fort Worth, Breckenridge, Cisco, Brady, San Antonio, and Batesville Texas in the week following the Diamond Classic. On Sunday I was back in Houston to work and be home with my son. I worked all week and shot in a charity shoot that Friday.
My son decided to join a church camping group at some point in the middle of this week. The church group was having a camp out while I would be gone on a two week road trip starting that Sunday. This was the “wrench” in all of my careful planning for the month of October. No big deal, we made it happen, it was fun, I’m so proud of him for choosing to join the group. Did the wrench stress me out, duh.
I left for my two week long road trip and headed to San Antonio. This is where I met a very special lady which I will be writing about for Trinity Oaks’s quarterly newsletter as part of my new volunteer work. After my interview of Brit Longoria, the Executive Director of Trinity Oaks for the “Fundraising Females” article I wrote in Lady Shooter Lifestyles, I was inspired to help an organization whose mission I fully understood and felt drawn to.
After an amazing few days in Juno, Texas and making a new friend, Mikel Moore. My new friend and I headed to San Antonio. I for Nationals, and she to hang out with me for a few days and then head back home to Arizona, thus ending her Dream Trip from Trinity Oaks. Mikel is younger than me and battling state 4 breast cancer. Talk about a change of perspective on any problems I am dealing with.
I shot the main event the first weekend of Nationals because I waited until the last possible moment to sign up and thus missed my chance to sign up with my favorite squad mate, Louise Terry. I wrote all about “Weezie” in my first article for Lady Shooter Lifestyles titled “Generations.” If you’re curious why I keep mentioning my Lady Shooter Lifestyles articles, perhaps it is part of my mourning process after parting ways with the magazine. Or maybe it’s because I am kinda proud of the work I did there and just acknowledge it. Maybe a little of both.
Back to Nationals… I absolutely loved spending the entire week shooting one event per day and having lots of time to socialize. I got to see my friends from Colombia, Mexico, and all over the United States. I got to shoot in the most perfect weather Texas has to offer on an average October day, and I got to spend some quality time with my San Antonio student crew. I have a group of regular students that I absolutely love teaching and spending time with. We went out to a big dinner at my favorite Mexican restaurant, Violas Ventana's, in case you wanted to know. We ate delicious food and shared some drinks. I never get to drink with them when we usually have meals because I am typically driving back to Houston right after our lunch. It is always a special and joyous occasion to share drinks and meals with people you treasure. Just another thing to be grateful for. We also went to watch the Top Shot presentation at the National Shooting Complex. I told them that this was pretty much the best of the best in the biggest spectator arena for Sporting Clays. I am pretty sure they were all inspired by it and ready to go get better at shooting.
Me dragging on about my students and food is just a diversion. I am avoiding talking about the not so amazing part of Nationals. How I shot. Well….. it wasn’t terrible. Every event had it’s ups and downs. I had moments of brilliance, moments of feeling like a complete failure, and moments of wanting to quit. Yup, quit. I admit it, I actually let the little temper tantrum throwing 5 year old Natalia take over and say “ I suck at this game, I should just quit.” Whenever I am not performing as well as I would like the negative thoughts can flow like corn on opening day. Thank God the feeling only lasts a few moments.
Here’s what I walked away with. What if I never got that feeling again because I stopped caring about hitting or missing and just remembered to have fun? What if I went back to that feeling of just being grateful to hold my shotgun and shoot at clay targets in the middle of a “work day” without having to ask anyone for permission? At the end of the day it is just a game. It means nothing about who I am as a person, other than I love to do it. Do I enjoy shooting well and even getting first place? Sure. But maybe not as much as I thought. How do I know this? I got a package in the mail today. It was from the amazing Glynn Mosely at the National Shooting Complex. It was medal for C Class 2nd, in the Ladies Open. I honestly had no idea I had won anything.
As I sit here thinking about the facets of my life just from today I am forced to be grateful once again. Today I designed three new labels for my skincare products which are currently going through a rebrand from Luxe Beauty to Esthetician Skin. I did three facials and organized my new mobile salon supplies to take to Dallas next week. I washed my hair… ( its a whole thing)
Rather than be stressed that I have to finish actually drying my hair for my birthday lunch tomorrow, or putting away laundry so I can clear the bed off to actually sleep on it, I am here. Writing my feelings instead of eating them. Fully prepared to give myself grace and mercy for whatever I did or didn’t do.
I meant to blog about each one of these major events but I just wanted to enjoy being in the moment. I wanted to clean my office but I really want to do literally anything else. I just want to connect with people. I pray that through this blog I do connect with people in a way that social media just can't.
Here's what I learned this month. Take life one day at a time. Nothing is guaranteed. Enjoy everything you have because you might not have it one day. When life throws you a wrench, turn it.
I will be writing more in depth about some of the experiences of this last month because they are worth mentioning. I learned a lot and I want to share. Because sharing is caring.
Every year, Greater Houston Sports Club hosts the Diamond Classic Sporting Clays Tournament. Notorious for its challenging target presentations and first class facilities and management, it is easily my favorite tournament of the year. Why is it my favorite? Because they give out "diamond" paper weights as trophies, duh... When I first started shooting I met this super cool guy named Brad Kidd Jr. He has a son who's about a year younger than my son Lawson and we became good friends and play date buddies. We would go shoot sometimes and hang out at his house with the kids. The first time I walked into his house I saw something that will forever be engrained in my mind. There at the center of his living space was a floor to ceiling, two story built in bookshelf filled with trophies. On almost every shelf I saw "diamonds" of varying sizes from the palm of your hand, all the way up to the size of a small melon. As my jaw recovered from its journey to the floor I was able to mask the giddiness in my voice when I asked him "Where did you get those?" That was the first time I heard about the Diamond Classic. In that moment I knew that I was going to win one.
I won my first (and only as of today) Diamond. It was 2019, Sub Gauge D Class 3rd. I cried when I found out I had won it. It was my first Diamond and it was the first definable goal that I had ever placed on myself with shooting. I then went on to win D Class Lady 1st at Nationals a few weeks later. I was on fire that year. Why in particular you might ask? Well, that year I was fresh from a divorce which turned out to be one of the best things that could have happened for me. I had lost some extra weight on the breakup diet, I had been going to yoga at least 4 times a week, but most importantly of all, I had been practicing regularly. By regularly I mean at least 1-3 times per week most of the time. This recipe for success is not actually a recipe more like a summary of my emotional, physical, and technical wellbeing.
As I went into this years Diamond Classic I had made the decision to not shoot the main event consisting of 200 sporting clays targets. Considering I had only practiced 4 times since my last competition, it seemed prudent to focus my energy on FITASC (as it has become my new passion,) and the super sporting and sub gauge events. I was served a big slice of humble pie with the FITASC event. The targets were, to put it simply, hard. I shot on a squad with a very good friend of mine and very good shooter, Michael Maskell. He's been to the Olympics 5 times as a skeet shooter for the lovely island country of Barbados. Michale shot an 87 and he fought hard for every one of those 87 targets. The winner shot a 91, second place was an 88, and 4 of the best shooters in the country, arguably the world, also shot 87s. I shot a 46. I broke less than 50% of the targets and I feel great about every single of those breaks. There may have been 10 targets that I could have and should have hit if I wasn't so..... whatever is going on with my mental game, that. Even if I had hit those 10 targets, I would have shot a 56. That would have been shooting to the best of my ability. This is why the should call it the Humble Classic. Coincidentally, 4 of the best female shooters in the country tied for 2nd place Ladies, with an 80.
The tournament was not a complete bust however. I earned the best score card of my shooting journey thus far with an 80 on my 20 gauge event. It was Saturday around 12pm when I started the round. There may have been about 5 squads on the whole course so I was able to blow through the entire round in about an hour and 10 minutes. I usually practice by myself because my dear friend and previous training partner, Michelle Miles (the mother of Brad's 2 children with 1 on the way), moved to Florida in 2018 to be closer to Brad's family. When I practice by myself, I go through about 100 shells in 45 minutes. I enjoy the quick pace. It is challenging for me to stay focused for 2 and a half hours, as is customary for a round of sporting clays. When I showed up this morning to shoot my 410 and 28 gauge events, the course was only a little busier. I thought to myself, certainly these will go quickly and I will experience the same level of success as the day before as this was my explanation for why I shot 20 gauge so well the day before. I did not.
I don't know why sometimes I shoot lights out, and sometimes I break less than 50% of the targets. In this case I am not including the Diamond Classic in my train of thought since it is just on a different level. The Diamond Classic is a perfect example of why the score itself doesn't mean as much as how you feel you did after the round. I have shot in the Diamond Classic since 2016 (except for 2018) and every year I realize that I have so much more to learn about target shooting, about mental game, and about humility.
I was 6 targets away from winning a Diamond this year. It would have been for Sub Gauge Lady 1st. I shall have to wait a whole year before a shot at another Diamond. 💎 Am I sad? Not really. Am I going to be discouraged my by scores? Absolutely not. I could have spent this week doing any number of other things but I chose to come shoot at this tournament. Knowing full well that I would have to work hard if I wanted any chance at a Diamond. It didn't work out and that is okay with me.
I am grateful for the opportunity to shoot in the Diamond Classic at all. I am grateful for the good weather and the fact that I didn't get rained on the entire week (plenty of others did) despite the constant threading clouds in the sky during almost every event I shot. Most of all I am grateful to just be alive. At the end of the day this is just a game that I love to play and trophies are just shelf ornaments. What really matters is how I feel when I walk out of a station. Though I didn't hit every target I felt I should have, I chose to walk away from almost every station with a smile and a grateful heart posture. Life is good. God is good.
Looking forward to the next one!
“You don’t know this yet, but you’re a really good shooter.”
These were the first words I heard as soon as my squad and I finished our round of super sporting today at the Diamond Classic. My squadmate Aly, a nice older man from Brownsville, said those words to me despite the fact that I shot a 62/100.
I was on a 3 person squad so we had a nice quick pace to our round. We started on station 1; which is always a treat because you end at the last station. I was first up and I shot a big fat 0. Talk about a way to kick off your round! I don’t really know what happened, a lot of shooters will usually come up with a long list of excuses for misses so here’s mine.
I stepped out of the shooter position with a 0 on my first station, and a big smile. I am not 100% sure why I smile in situations when others would have any other expression besides a smile, but I have done it since I was a kid. Maybe it’s how I cope with awkwardness within me. There were a number of emotions and thoughts racing through my mind as I stepped out of the “cage” but the first one was actually gratitude. Well maybe it was the second one, I might have been a little in shock, but I immediately redirected the negative thoughts to gratitude. I was grateful to be spending my Thursday morning shooting a tournament with amazing targets and good people instead of sitting in an office counting down the minutes until “quitting time.”
I texted my best friend and told him what had happened. I asked him to come watch me shoot my next station. I knew that if I had him there I would experience a level of comfort that would hopefully help me get focused. I also texted another good friend and asked for prayers.
When he showed up, he suggested I change my chokes to something more open since the targets really weren’t that far away. While my squad was viewing the next set of targets, he changed my chokes to IC/IC. The difference in constriction between Mod and IC is .01 which doesn’t sound like a lot but it makes a difference. I missed 2 targets on the next station and continued to shoot well. I would have moments of brilliance and then just (insert woman shrugging emoji)…
My mood continued to improve as I continued to shoot well and then towards the end of my round I started missing more than I felt I should have. I know that I have a lot to work on and my mental game needs practice too. Based on this I could be confused by what Aly said. Instead I was inspired to dream big. What would happen if I started believing it? I wonder how many other things I don’t know about myself yet? I feel like that is how life works, you don’t know what you’re capable of until you go through the trials, until you push yourself past some limit you had and reach a new limit.
Everyday we go through our lives just doing the best we can but I find that I am very hard on myself. I show all my friends grace and mercy and my son all the forgiveness in the world. But when it comes to showing myself grace and mercy, it’s like I’m on a totally different grading scale. I used to be a little hard on myself when I shot poorly and it would last the rest of the round. Like today, when I shot a 0 there was a tiny part of me that wanted to just quit, I might have even told myself in my head, “what are you even doing here?” But when I changed my perspective to being grateful for the opportunity to be there, I was able to recover.
I am still learning every single time I go out to shoot and I doubt I will ever stop learning. Every day is a learning opportunity and the conversation you have with yourself will dictate how you live your life and whether you learn and grow from an experience or you get stagnant. Little by little I have chosen to be nicer to myself and others. I have learned to realize that no matter what is going on, as long as I am still alive I have a chance to change something, anything, everything.
For more information on chokes, check out briley.com they have a ton of information.
This morning I woke up around 5:30am ready to start my day. Without an alarm and without a second thought, I hopped out of bed and immediately checked my phone. Checking my phone first thing in the morning has been a habit for a few years now. I don’t know when it started but I know when it ends. Today.
When I was little, I sucked my thumb until the night of my 13th birthday. That night I decided that I was too old to suck my thumb and I just decided it was time to stop. I had been sucking my thumb for 12 years. Every single night I would fall asleep sucking my thumb and twirling my hair between my fingers. This was my comfort zone. That night, I broke out of my comfort zone and had to fall asleep without the aide of my habits. I never thought about it again after that. It was that easy. All it took was me making up my mind to stop, and I did. My reason for stopping was so logical and rational that my mind didn’t even argue.
What if we could break any habit we wanted that easily?
Today as I shot my very first round of 12ga FITASC I was humbled by the difficulty of some targets whilst also crushing some targets I had previously struggled with. I also missed some targets that as my best friend would say, “you should never miss those.” What does all that mean? It means that my practice is paying off, my improved gunfit has made a difference, and that I still have a lot to learn. However, it also means that I have some habits that need to be changed. I know that because I am fully aware of why I miss most of the time.
Sometimes it’s the bad habit of stopping my gun when I pull the trigger. Other times it’s the bad habit of trying to measure the gap between the target and the end of my barrel instead of just trusting my hand-eye coordination. On two separate occasions I actually flinched as if my gun was somehow going to jump out of my hands and try to hit the target. All of these are bad habits that with enough practice and confidence I should be able to eliminate. All in all, I would say that my first FITASC was a success, I feel good about my shooting, I know what I need to work on, and I am happy with how I performed. Meaning… I did not let anything distract me; not dropping my phone and cracking the screen, or missing the easiest target of the entire competition, or even the mild headache I had from the weather. I shot my shots and did not keep score in my mind. I stayed true to my philosophy that this game is played one target at a time.
At the end of three and a half hours of shooting and staying focused I walked away with a 46/100. Yes that is less than 50% but I am not concerned with that. The targets at the Diamond Classic are notoriously hard and I wanted to give myself a strong baseline to improve from. Stay tuned on Sunday to see how my score compares to others in C Class…
It has taken me five and a half years to get comfortable shooting FITASC which includes shooting from a low mount position. Meaning the back of the shotguns stock must be 25 cm below the shoulder when the shooter calls “pull” and cannot be raised to the shoulder and face until the target is visible. I have been practicing shooting “low mount” for about a year now and I have often thought it really makes it so much easier to see the targets and not focus too much on the gun.
I have always seen every new day as a new opportunity because it is so much easier than living in the past. Through out every competition the temptation to be upset about missing a target is ever present. I had to learn a new habit to cope with that. Now I tell myself “It’s already in the past.” This phrase has been so engrained into my philosophy on targets that it has spilled over into my life. For every bad thing that happens, that makes me upset, I now find myself repeating those words to calm down and move on, “it’s already in the past.”
In this blog I just declared that I will be stopping my habit of checking my phone first thing in the morning. I will do that by replacing it with a new first thing. My new habit will be to read my bible first thing. Then I can check my phone second thing… There are many ways to change a habit. You can quit, like I quit sucking my thumb. You can replace it, like I will with checking my phone. You can also just keep working on it, like I will with stopping my gun, or measuring the gap. Those are harder to just quit or change, but regardless, I will give myself grace when they happen and tell myself “it’s already in the past” and try again.
Be yourself, everybody else is already taken.
On September 30, 2020, I wrote my third blog for Lady Shooter Lifestyles magazine’s website entitled, “Start by Starting.” The title originated from a quote by Meryl Streep. At the time, I was the editor of a new magazine and enjoying my Miranda Priestly moment (from “The Devil Wears Prada”) and beyond excited for the future that lay ahead. I find myself equally drawn to that same quote almost exactly one year later as I sit down to begin one of many firsts.
Today, I write my first blog for my newly created (manifesting future brand), Girl Gone Grateful. Today also brought my first real pre-competition practice session for my first 12 gauge FITASC competition. I realize that that many of you may not know what FITASC means, so I will get into that tomorrow…
When I wrote my first blog last year, I had not written anything in a creative manner since college. When I wrote my first article a few weeks later, I had not written anything like that since high school. Having had limited experience with the task at hand, the thought of what I was about to do was slightly scary, and equal parts intimidating and exciting. I had spent months holding onto the interviews of the three ladies who were the heart and soul as well as the most gracious subjects of my first to-be-published article. In order to get the words flowing, I sat down to write a much less intimidating blog, and it was like the floodgates of words opened up from my mind and came out through my fingertips on the keyboard.
It has been almost a year since I got to see my words and the creation of my story around these incredible women in print, and I couldn’t be more grateful for every single second of that journey which led me here to this moment and where I am today. That journey led me to publish many more articles which gave me the opportunity to meet some of the most incredible women I know and respect. It led me to discovering more about myself and pushed me to challenge myself. It also led me to realize that I did not want to be Miranda Priestly like I thought, nor did I want to be the editor of a magazine more than I wanted to maintain the incredible independence offered by entrepreneurship.
My facial and skincare business brings me the most humble sense of purpose I could have ever hoped for. I get to go to work every day and help people feel better about their skin and about themselves. I always say it’s like going to play with life size barbies that talk back. It doesn’t even feel like work, and I get to use science and data to form custom skincare treatment plans for my clients. Because of the flexibility of running my own business and making my own schedule, I am now able to build a life I truly love, which includes teaching shooting lessons to new and beginner shooters. If you had asked me ten years ago how I saw my life going, I would have said nowhere special. At that time, I was unwed with a baby, I had dropped out of college to have the baby, and I was working forty hours a week in the Oil & Gas Industry, feeling completely miserable because I wanted to spend more time with my baby.
The first time I picked up a shotgun was November 17, 2012, a perfect Saturday afternoon just days after my 26th birthday. My older brother took me as a birthday present. The course of my life was forever altered that day because I simply fell in love with shooting clays. One year later, I purchased my first firearm ever: a Beretta A400 semi-automatic shotgun. I spent the next several years shooting as much and as often as I could. I shot my first competition in January of 2016, and haven’t stopped since. The picture above is from my second dove hunt ever last weekend, which took place just two weeks after my first dove hunt ever. It took me years to get from sporting clays to hunting, where most people who shoot sporting clays start off hunting.
Life is so incredibly beautiful in its simplicity, juxtaposed with the complexity of decisions and moments that define you, change you, motivate you, and sometimes break you. I assure you that I have experienced each one of these moments, and I look forward to sharing them with you on this blogging journey…it’s gonna get deep. In the writing I have done thus far, I have always strived to maintain a complete sense of transparency and integrity to the reality of any situation. Therefore, I will not only be presenting or writing about not only the good that happens, but also the bad.
“Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.”
2 Corinthians 12:19 NLT
I truly love the Lord with all my heart, and that plays a big role in my life and how I view the world. Through this blog, I pray that my words will be inspired by my faith. I want to share with you all the wonderful ups and downs of my life, and how learning to be grateful for both has given me the life of my dreams.
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
Matthew 6:33 KJV
When I started seeking God in everything I did, all the pieces started to fall into place like Jesus magic. Through an extreme and humble sense of gratitude for all that life has brought me thus far, I have been able to learn what it truly means to be alive and live a life worth living. And I can’t wait to share that with you.
In this blog, you can expect to read all about my life and how gratitude helps me get through it all.
Facials & Skincare
Please comment and share. I look forward to sharing this journey with you.
I am a mother, an esthetician, a competitive sporting clays shooter, a shooting instructor, a writer, and above all a child of God with lots of life experience to share. I love living life in the most authentic way, being grateful for the good and the bad.