After over a year here, I suddenly knew where I wanted to hang items that have been stored in a box in my closet.

I bought siding hooks for items to be hung in the 3 season porch. I was hesitant to try them, but they were super easy to use!

A couple of days ago, I asked Bob's help to hang 9 items.

Today, in a flourish of confidence, I hung the remaining 5 items from that box that required new holes to be added to the walls and without asking for anyone's help or opinion. Bob is so proud! He has said that my confidence level has steadily increased from the time we've met until now and that I am down to needing to ask permission and/or apologizing for "nothing" to once a month or less (used to be multiple times a day).

Just 52 plates left to hang ... I've left the best for last. ;) I haven't taken the time to lay them out and decide where I want them. My ex made such a huge deal about it in California that I didn't bother having them hung in Oregon. Now, there is still a lingering bit of trepidation in the thought of hanging them, but I'm sure that I'll overcome that once I know where and how I want them. :)

I am not the only one progressing in personal development. Bob has been trying to quit smoking off and on ever since we met. This time around, however, he has made significant progress and believes that he will soon be conqueror. <3

Two weeks ago, he decided to make the switch from cigarettes to vape. There were several factors that helped in this decision.

He tells me that vaping is cheaper and he has projects and activities that he would much rather spend the money on.

He has been having congestion and a lingering cough for months. I suggested that it may have to do with the smoking. With the vape, there are fewer chemicals being inhaled and within a week the lingering cough was gone.

After 10 days of vaping, he decided to try a drag from a cigarette and, for the first time, did not enjoy the sensation. :)

Now, two weeks in, he has shared that there are 3 power settings on the pen and he is using the lowest setting. Plus, there are nicotine level options and he is using the next from the lowest option. He said that his cravings have diminished enough that the cartridge he is currently using has lasted twice as long as expected. He had originally planned on buying a lower dose cartridge when this one is gone, but is now thinking that he might not need a replacement at all! How exciting!

I know that smoking is one of the hardest vices to break free of. I am very proud of his efforts. <3

I didn't feel like doing the items on my list this morning, but still wanted to be outside. So, I thought I'd do something very easy and lay out the frame pieces for the shed that I am hoping that Bob will have time to put together this weekend.

I took the pieces that I figure belong to the frame out of the box and lay them in groups on the ground. I checked the hardware list to be sure we have all of the little items. All good. Then, I decided to attempt to assemble the base frame...

An hour later, I finally figured out which pieces belong to this section, but I really can not tell what holes are supposed to line up together and have decided that this is best left to someone with engineering experience. I will gladly remain the "go 'fer girl" (as I have been since I was little) and get back to my list. ;)

I am half way through my confidence course. Here are a few notes from the lesson I took this morning for whomever may need to see it:

Indecision is a form of self-abuse.

If you don't know what you want and refuse to take action one way or another, then that indecision is still a decision that ultimately leads to an undesirable outcome. Life or someone else may have to make the decision for you and you may not be happy with the results, but you gave away your deciding power. The saddest form of indecision is knowing what you want and you let it slip away by not taking action when the opportunity presented itself.

If you are stuck in indecision and can't make up your mind on what you want, remember that clarity in trying to figure out what you want does not come from thinking. It comes from action, from engaging in life experiences. If you do not know what you want, try something... any thing. Then, you will know whether or not you like it. If you don't know what will happen, do it. It will either work or it won't. Don't worry about whether it is perfect or the right decision at this point. Taking an action, any action, gets things moving; because when you are standing still nothing can happen. It's like being in a parked car with the GPS on. The GPS can not give you clear directions until you are moving and it can figure out where you currently are.

Getting started is the hardest part. You can always change the direction if you find that your actions are not getting you to where you want to go. Like when the GPS reroutes you when it figures out you are not heading toward the location you wanted to go.

Stop thinking and thinking about it, stop procrastinating and take action!

One of the exercises in my Confidence course is to think about areas that I am confident in or have been in. How does that feel? How do I act?

My first thought was that I am not confident in anything. Then, I over simplified the thought and imagined an empty, well lit, level room. I can absolutely, confidently walk across such a room. Then, I was able to think of plenty of other situations that I am and have been confident about.

I don't get overwhelmed.

No one needs to tell me how to do it.

I don't feel the need to ask permission.

My perfectionism doesn't get in the way. When going through this empty room, it doesn't matter how I walk or run or skip or dance. It doesn't matter how fast or slow I go. If I trip on my own feet I can laugh about it.

Then, I had a major “a-ha” moment...

I suddenly realized that I don't have a problem with perfectionism in myself when I am comfortable in my environment and my understanding of the task that I am doing. When I am comfortable, I can easily deviate from "perfection" and enjoy a little creative license. I can also laugh at my own mistakes when I understand what it was that I did. And, I don't care if others do things differently than I do or learn via a different method than I do. I do have a need my surroundings to be orderly because chaos overwhelms me to the point of distraction, but the area doesn't need to be "perfect".

For the first time, I understand that I am not a perfectionist. It is a learned behavior (to avoid negative responses... think bad grades, being told "you're doing it wrong", or being teased) and a coping skill to deal with anxiety. Whoa.

I don't know what difference this new realization will make in my life, but... wow. It is certainly a different view of myself than I've previously had! I really like it!

Bob came home last night, looked in the backyard at the fence line we marked out and asked: "are you done putting in posts already?"

"Why, yes, yes I am!"

"And who moved the truck?"

"I did!"

"Well, good for you!"

So, all of the posts are in for what was marked last weekend. It looks like the next section will be marked out between raindrops... ;)

I've also dismantled my riding area (we are making changes there), mapped out where gates need to go, cleaned the barn and water trough, rearranged the stall mats a bit, filled in low spots in the barn, placed a t-post inside the barn in preparation for adding a divider, finished mowing, picked up branches that I had pruned when when I did the first section of t-posts and put them (along with cardboard) in the raised bed and have done a bit of extra cleaning in the house.

I am on a roll! I feel good!

Last night, Bob and I were watching a commercial on the TV for a show and something someone said got my attention. A man who was probably in his 50s was saying how he wished someone had told them at 24 years old that this was as good as it gets.

I looked over at Bob and said: I don't know... I enjoy life far more now than I did in my 20s and 30s.

He smiled and replied: So do I!

It's not that I had it so hard then, but I do more pursuing of my interests now versus life revolving around the interests of other family members. I learned a lot, but I really would have liked being able to be more... myself. :) So, yeah... there is plenty more to enjoying life's journey after your 20s and 30s! ;)

In the first module of my new course, I have learned that confidence is a skill that can be developed and strengthened like a muscle.

Confidence is the willingness to try combined with the trust that you will figure it out. A willingness to try means the willingness to act - even in the face of fear and uncertainty. Trust means that you even if you do fail in your attempt to try you learn something from it and continue to try until you figure it out.

The key to developing confidence is in having a growth mindset.

To develop confidence, you first must develop competence in the area you want to be confident in.

The steps are:
1. Try
2. Learn (whether you immediately succeed or, if you fail, try again)
3. Apply what you learn to build skills
4. Competency develops the better you get at a skill
5. The feeling of confidence grows when you become competent in that skill.

My take-away is that I do have that confidence to try and try again. My emotional feeling of confidence just was shaken and it has taken me time to do the emotional healing. And, as I continue to move forward, learning new skills and re-familiarizing myself with old skills the confident feeling that I once had will return (actually, I have noticed it emerging from sleep already). :)

A couple of weeks ago, I felt compelled to call a surveyor - even though I had planned on waiting until next year for this project. However, I've been concerned about keeping the dogs out of the neighbor's yard once the electric fence comes down for the winter (they have been respecting the tape after feeling it's bite a couple of times ;), but the stakes are too short to be effective in deep snow. :/ ).

Well, the surveyor happened to be working in the area and checked every thing over. He let me know that the reason I couldn't find pins was because an official, full survey had never been made. The back corner pin is very close to where I thought it should be. I just couldn't find a non-existent pin. Instead of a typical month or more wait, we already have our markers!

Yesterday, Bob and I placed temporary stakes for half the distance. This week, I'll be working on putting in the t-posts. Once that is done, Bob and I can move the temporary stakes to do more. We only have the one roll of fencing to put up this year, but that will likely be enough for a suitable deterrent (we have snow fencing and pallets if the dogs are determined and sneak around the edges).

I am super excited!

While I was gone, Bob managed to get an evening flight in with a couple of co-workers. This flight has been scheduled and rescheduled due to work schedules and weather over the past couple of months. I'm glad they were finally able to get out and enjoy themselves!

I spent a few days helping out my family this week. My Dad gave me an awesome compliment... He said that I out-worked his skid steer while cleaning the barn. Of course, it wasn't working properly most of the time, but I'm taking it! :)

On the way toward my home, my oldest detoured to the Sioux Falls Butterfly House (we have scheduled and rescheduled going since May). I spent about an hour taking pictures. Here is a sampling. ;)

So thankful for our life here! <3

Photo from last week taken by my youngest - you may have already seen it. ;)

This Empowerment course was mostly about setting boundaries and saying NO. And yes. ;)

One of the activities was to "find your voice". In a remote location, practice yelling, screaming, and laughing as loud as possible. Ok, I've never been very loud, but this is how it went...

Me in dreamworld: Yell like a Klingon warrior before battle (Star Trek reference)

Me in reality: squeak

It's just as well... the neighbors (and all of the animals around) may become concerned if I start each day with a hearty battle cry. ;)

So... I got through the lessons, but may not be ready to teach a class on this for a very long time... that's ok. I don't think this area is my calling. There were several good exercises (like this one) for me to work on for my own personal development though. :)

I have also finished the Focus course. I did not find it very useful at all. It had very little insight on how to maintain focus (just the redirection of thought once you recognize you've wandered, which I already knew). Instead, the "focus" was on working toward achieving your goals. It had good information - just not what I had in mind. I am hopeful that the Confidence course will be more useful to me.

Do you want to know something fabulous? I have spent 6 hours mowing over three days and have not had an asthma attack. Bob commented that he is really surprised at how well I am doing. Even last year, I had to move inside the house it the neighbor was mowing to prevent an asthma attack. Yes, I did wear a mask most of the time that I was mowing, but we still find it very impressive because the mask did not completely block all of the dust, pollen, seeds, and such that mowing stirs up that normally has me reaching for an inhaler. :)

Also, Bob walked around the corner of the hay shed and said:

Wow! You've been busy!

I allowed the purslane to grow because I thought all of the strawberry plants had died. Imagine my surprise when I saw a strawberry leaf peeking through! So, I decided to thin the purslane. Two wheelbarrows later, I have only found three strawberry plants of the twenty that I planted. But, three is better than none! :)

On the other side of the house, we are still enjoying new blooms. I have counted eight different wildflowers that have survived so far. <3

I had been mowing for about an hour this morning when the engine just quit. I checked the tank and there was still plenty of fuel. I texted Bob to see if he wanted me to push it into the garage and he told me to just leave it where it sat. He was able to come home for lunch and we went over to the mower to see what I could possibly have done to it...

Bob pointed to this thing sticking out the side and asked "Do you see this?"

"Yeah... that's the spark plug, right? Shouldn't it have a cover on it?"

I had been mowing around a tree with low limbs and, apparently, a branch swept off the cover. That's it dangling under the plug. Bob said that's a first for him!

I pruned the branches of that tree even before I knew what the problem was because I was tired of dealing with it. ;)

We were relieved to have such an easy fix. :)

Guess what I did for the first time today? And, despite my loooong history of running into things, getting stuck, or panicing with motorized vehicles, all went well (in first gear ;) )!

I was totally inefficient too... doing figure 8s, serpentines, going hither and thither... basically, having fun and still getting the weeds cut. <3

Here we have Bob and Flicka. Bob and Ben have been working with Flicka the most. Destiny let Flicka know the first day that I was his and she has been avoiding me as much as possible since then, but I have been able to sneak in a pet or two at feeding time.

Flicka does allow the others to catch her as long as they have suitable tribute to offer. ;) She is still a bit on the wild side but once caught, she leads well for the amount of time put in. Standing still is another story. She will pick up all four feet and can be pet all over - as long as she is distracted with food. She is obviously intelligent and, watching her in the barn yard, she is fast and enjoys running. :) She will jump the wagon if it is in her way, but thankfully she stops short of jumping the fence. She does not like being separated from the other horses, but she is getting used to the idea.

I have been able to examine her teeth and she has a severe over bite, which is likely why she was sold so cheap. This does not diminish her usefulness, but it does mean that she will have to be fed hay as she can not cut the grass with her teeth. We can certainly work with that! :)

Bob and I finally finished putting the sides on my 2nd raised garden bed. Now to fill it with cardboard, limbs, and horse manure.

Last year, when I was working on the first raised garden bed, I was busy filling 5 gallon buckets, loading them into the back of the truck, have someone move the truck into place, and dump one bucket at a time in place. I am so glad to have a tractor to make this project a tad easier when I'm ready!

"Farmer Kelley on His Tractor" little bit about this photo...

Bob said that when he climbed into the tractor seat, he envisioned the city guy turned farmer in the TV show Green Acres wearing his suit and tie driving an old tractor. However, Bob didn't want to potentially ruin his wedding clothes for a picture. ;) He did enjoy painting the smiling face on the bucket though.

Just so we are all clear, the caption is only a humorous statement. We in no way aspire to be farmers - not even hobby farmers. Farmers put in long, hard days and we thoroughly appreciate their efforts! Our tractor is just a nice tool to have to make certain tasks in our life a little easier. :)