Fight, Flight or Write

If you know anything about psychology, you know that as humans, we are have an innate "fight or flight" response that's embedded deep within ourselves. When something puts our emotions into overdrive, we either want to run far, far away, or we want to stay and fight. We can't control it. It's real. It's serious. It's proven.

For some of us, our response goes beyond that. For some of us, we write.

Our heads swirl, our emotions run high, and the only reasonable thing that we can do is take to the keyboard and get everything we are feeling down on paper. Call it a coping strategy, if you will. I am one of those people. 

meaganjeanelancaster.com

I can't tell you the amount of email drafts I have in my inbox addressed to my husband, never sent, because I had to organize my thoughts on paper before I could organize them in person. I talk in circles, a lot. Sometimes, I was so equally proud of what I wrote and heated about the subject, that I did hit the send button. To my dear husband, my most sincere apologies for these few emails you've received.

So, how do we harness the power of everything we're feeling? How do we turn our emotions into productive conversation? Friends, I have a few tips for you. If you're like me, you probably have some tips to add to the list - so please do!

1. Just write. I'm serious. Whatever you're feeling, get it out. Pretend that the laptop screen is your best friend, and the keys you're frantically typing are the equivalent of the words spewing out of your mouth over margaritas at happy hour to your best girlfriend. She just bought you another round. Get it all out. Even the tough stuff, the stuff you hesitate about writing. Get every last piece out on that screen. And then stop.

2. Put it away. Do not hit that send button. You couldn't anyway, because it's not like you drafted a real email, right? Good. Put it away. What you have just written might be messy, it might be nasty, but I bet getting it out of your insides made you feel better. Close the laptop. Go make some calming tea. Relax. 

3. Review. Review. Review. Somewhere in what you wrote, there's some gold. There's something raw and real and something that you've learned about yourself. Dig. Dig deep. Inside of your newly crafted piece, there's a light bulb just waiting to go off. Find it.

4. Revise and share. Take out all of the bad grammar and the parts of your story that you might be embarrassed to have your grandma read at Thanksgiving in front of a table full of relatives. Soften it up. Use that single light-bulb and turn it into a city full of bright lights. And then, when you're ready, share it with a couple of people who you know, and who you trust. And who you trust will tell you if you've gone off the deep end.

5. Find your media. Post that piece on your blog. Link to it on Facebook, Tweet about it, find a photo that relates and makes you smile, and post that photo to Instagram. Ask friends to share it.  You created something that came from YOU. Be proud.

My first successful piece of writing

was posted on The Huffington Post, and in a week had over 4,500 likes and shares. The reason it was successful is because I just wrote. I put it away. I reviewed it and shared with my tribe, and then I gathered up the gusto to put it out there. And the reason it resonated was because it was real. So, so real.

It's easy to get to step one. It's not so easy to look at your raw emotions in the face and craft them in a way that will resonate with others. If you can do it, I want to read what you've written.

XO

Meagan

Gardening is the worst.

I know, I know. I post a lot about how wonderful and beautiful Lancaster Land is in the spring and summer months. And that time ins here, friends! It is beautiful. The things that grow here are delicious in both smell and taste.

I know. 

I make it sound like we hit the sheets at night, and wake up well rested, to birds chirping and things flowering and everything is just oh-so-natural and happens without effort.

I know. 

I think I owe you an apology. I think I've mislead you. I have recently just cleaned the dirt from underneath my fingernails and gotten the grass stains out of my jeans, and now I sit here, in front of the trusty laptop, wanting to gush about how great everything looks and how easy and fun gardening is around here. But, I just can't. I can't lie to you. Not anymore. The truth is, I think it's the worst but I do it anyway. Because the end result is so worth it.

Blueberries?

I am not one of those people who find gardening an art. I don't look forward to it. I'm happy when it's done, sure, but I don't want to spend hours in the garden and I've never gotten excited about spending an afternoon pulling weeds. And there are so many weeds. So many. 

So before I show you the "after" - I have got to show you the "before" - because until you can appreciate where you've been, there's no way to move forward and appreciate where you're going. 

First I've got to plug

this fancy thing

It's a wacky contraption that you can use to cut into deep roots and also is a handheld rake for easy pulling out of spindly, sticky weeds. It's the best.

And second, wine. Because gardening, as most things, are more enjoyable when you have something to look forward to after, or even during. And I'm a fan of the rose'/working outside combination. So, cheers.

The garden bed (1 of 2) before we weeded it.

Would you guess these are grapes?

Our home is an ongoing, forever changing, hopefully evolving work in progress. That's what Life at Lancaster Land is all about, though. It's about picking up pieces, reclaiming wood, creating a journey without really knowing our destination. The coming months will bring fruitful apple trees, far too many plums, blackberries and then blackberry jam, blueberries, grapes, and so many vegetables from the garden. But, like most things, it takes an undeniable amount of work to get there. That's the lesson.

We've got to make time for things that we don't look forward to. We've got to sometimes prioritize the work before the play. We've got to weed the garden before we can saute the zucchini. We've got to water the plants, pull the weeds, dig the holes, build the jumps, work on the bikes, and the list goes on and on around here. We've got to do the work, because when we do the work, we enjoy the result a lot more. 

XOXO

Meagan

Why I blog


I sit here behind my computer, sun beaming in through the office window. Roscoe's behind me, laying on the rug, panting heavy breaths. Judging by the twitch in his paw, he's dreaming. 

I'm coming up on the one year anniversary of when I launched Life at Lancaster Land and I've been asking myself why. I love my day job, I am in love with my all the time job of being a mom, yet I take to the keyboard on a semi-regular basis to share with the world wide web what's bouncing around in my mind.

The honest answer is easy. I enjoy it. The secondary answer is that in some way, I want to inspire whoever reads my words. Inspire you to act? Sure. Inspire a smile to span your face? You bet. Inspire you to feel that in a dark time, you're not alone? Absolutely. I know that there's probably not a lot of up-front commonalities between me and you. But dig deeper, and we just might be the same. 

Here's an example: my husband is gone all week riding a motorcycle in the Oregon wilderness, trying his best to get lost, and the adventure is being filmed for a big company. Yeah, that's different. But at the core of it is that I'm a working mom, who is married to a man who is gone a lot. I have to shuffle schedules and lean on family and friends, and when he returns later this week, I leave for a work trip so we're juggling and trading and dancing to make everything work. We use whiteboards and calendars and have conversations about our schedules over dinner, making sure that our little girl is in bed by 7:30 and she's cared for the next day. 

Keeping the family on track - this whiteboard saves the day.
A few years back, he was invited to race the Baja 1000, and he left for a month to train and race the race in Mexico. He quit is job to make the trip happen. It was the opportunity of a lifetime. I know, that probably isn't very relatable either, but I'm sure that you've all sacrificed something to help someone else follow their dreams. And you better believe we've learned that dreaming together is a lot of fun.


Joining the Baja 1000 Team in Todos Santos, Mexico

Working for the weekends, making dreams come true. We were babies here in 2013.

So, there's that. That's why I write, but why would you read? Really, beyond my best friends and my mom, why is any of this relevant? 

I read an article awhile ago. I will admit I was spiraling down into a world of blogging advice columns and confusing myself about SEO and feeling pretty frustrated that I wasn't doing the business of blogging right. Because let's be honest, there's a lot to know. But then I read a piece of advice that reassured me. 

Pretend you're sitting across the kitchen table from your average reader. Ask them what they want. Write about that.

I'll continue being personal. I will let you know what my favorite lipstick is, or what primer I used when I refinished our awful office cabinet. (Seriously, it was the best stuff ever but I'll tell you all about that in another post). I'll write about wine and our home projects and our motorhome adventures. I'll talk to you about keeping sane while feeling crazy busy and the tools we use to make it all work. I hope that hits the mark. But, do me a favor. Pretend you're sitting across the kitchen table from me. What else do you want to know? 

XO

Meagan 

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Keeping us happy trackside

We traveled a few hours east this past weekend in our new to us, sort-of trusty, pretty leaky motorhome for our second voyage to the motocross track for rounds 3 and 4 of the Pacific Racing Organization's annual race series. I know I'm still a newbie at traveling with a baby and having an RV, but over the course of the two days we were gone, I realized a few things.

1. The more space you have, the more stuff you bring. Seriously. We were lucky enough to be camping by two of our friends, who were living it up in a tent all weekend. Sure, we had a bathroom (hallelujah), a fridge and a stove, but the space the motorhome provides also invites a lot of little "extras" that more trouble than they are worth. There's a part of me that misses waking up in a tent, dew on my face, fresh air circling my nose. There's another part that doesn't miss the midnight bathroom runs, digging for lunch-meat in a cooler full of ice melt, and having to try to fit the tent and the poles in that tiny tent bag at the end of the trip. I always forget about the poles.

2. Meal prepping is all about the baby now. My prep work was full of boiling macaroni noodles, hard boiling eggs, shredding chicken and keeping the whole milk cold. When we arrived on Friday night track side, Joey and I looked at each other realizing we had no dinner for the adults. At least we were digging lunch-meat from a fridge instead of a cooler for the "dinner sandwiches" - which Roscoe quickly ate when I put mine down anyway. The piece of this that I love the most is that our tent-camping friends brought the rose' for us to share after the babe went to bed. Cheers to good wine-loving friends who are obviously more skilled at packing.

3. Dry Shampoo. Yup, I brought it this time (last time I forgot) and things were a lot easier in the mornings. I've tried a lot of different ones in this new season of life called parenthood, and Batiste is my favorite.

4. Keeping the RV stocked is super important, because it's easy to forget things. We had showers on-site, but forgot towels. I brought my Swiffer mop, because I was determined to keep a clean "house" for the weekend. Nope, I forgot the Swiffer mop pads. Our lesson here is to keep a running list of things that need to return to the motorhome after being used. 

RealHer Lipstick and Hubby's Sunnies.

5. Dirt. Sand. Dust. It gets everywhere. I just have to give in to the reality that we have a toddler who discovered that rocks from the ground fit nicely in her pockets, and that sitting wide-legged in the dirt is the best place she can be. My multi-tasking husband can be a bit of a tornado, one that swirls from dirtbike to motorhome and back to dirtbike, trekking track dirt through the motorhome on his way to grab a snack. Sure, there are tools and tricks to alleviate a lot of the mess, but at some point we all end up dirty, sandy and dusty. Roscoe, our dog, is amazing, but his fur is like Velcro to everything nature intended to stay outside. I have to give into that reality as well.

And a bonus that's all about me... this lipstick. On days living out of the motorhome, sometimes all I need is a nice red lipstick that actually moisturizes, and a pair of oversized sunglasses to hide the dark circles under my eyes. And you can bet I rocked both all weekend long.

The moral of the weekend and our latest adventure is this: No matter how you get to where you're going, you still arrive at your destination. The magic is what happens when you get there.

The memories we create now are building strong bonds for our family, and showing our little girl just how lucky she is because of the incredible community we have.

XO

Meagan

Roscoe's party trick

Backflips

I am thankful to the universe. Most days, I find myself thinking "I have to give that up to the universe." Control freak I am not, and I think this helps.

There's a lot outside of my control, and once I got myself to a place where I could just appreciate that, I felt my body and my mind relax. Especially in this life, and the diversity of the people in our orbit, there's just a lot I can't have ownership of. It's not a bad thing nor is it a complaint. It's just a realization and appreciation of the beautiful differences in all of us. We can't change what motivates people, where others find joy, what others find fearful, and that's okay. We can't control what actions others take and I own that. I can control me. That's all. And the rest? I give that up to the universe.
Toes in the grass.

Sunday was a beautiful day at Lancaster Land. The sun was shining, the air was breezy and friends descended upon us. The mimosas were flowing for the ladies and the dirt bikes were revving for the gents. It was lazy and active and the juxtaposition of it all was just perfect.

We grabbed a blanket, sprawled out on the lush green field grass, and watched the  debauchery that became of the day.  

Track lines became rutted, rakes and shovels got used. Friends became closer and laughter filled our air. Until it didn't. Until I got scared.

I married one of those guys that gets high on adrenaline. I am not one of those people. The scary and the dangerous make me sweat and the lights in my vision dim just a little. Risk and fear are nowhere in my safe spaces. As much as we laughed and loved the events of the day, there was a reality check that shook me. The what ifs became really loud in my mind. I found myself spiraling into the game of "Worst Case Scenario" and I didn't like it.

Not "nailing" it.
Being different from your partner isn't a bad thing at all, but sometimes we're shown just how different we really are. 

When he misses a backflip, my mind doesn't go where his does. It doesn't think about the ways to "nail it next time" or get excited to try it again right away, because my mind thinks about what we would have done if he hadn't gotten up. I'm serious, I got scared.

Us.
But that's why I'm thankful to the universe. Everything was ok.  I've been provided best friends to share in the nervousness and a man that is exactly my opposite. I'm constantly being challenged and forced to grow a little more every day. I'm learning to appreciate the danger and the wins they provide.

Also, I'm thankful for soft dirt when the landings don't happen how we might have hoped

And yes, that's a metaphor. 

XO 



Read more about Life at Lancaster Land and what this place is all about.

Leaks, creaks and dirtbikes...oh my.

I swear. I am organized. 

Well, maybe I used to be organized. I'm trying. That' counts for something, I hope.

The space in my head is taking reservations and the wait-list is long. I was thinking about what I think about in my free time to think, and I realized that somehow, I don't really have that kind of free time anymore. I'm thinking about lists, writing lists, thinking about work when I'm not at work, thinking about Elsie when I'm not with her, wondering about dinner, shopping for dinner, making dinner, cleaning up dinner, cleaning the house, improving the house, thinking about how to improve the house, blah blah blah...there's just no available space. 

Coffee, two lists, two growlers to fill on the way out of town.

So when it's time to pack up for the weekend and head to Tri-Cities for the first round of the PRO (Pacific Racing Organization) Series, I can't and don't just throw some fresh clothes in a bag and throw the bag in the Sprinter Van and head east. Now I make lists. More than one. I grocery shop for meals. We have a motor-home to clean up, stock up, pack up and then live in for the weekend.  I'm not complaining at all, but this adventure was very different than any of our adventures before. 

Elsie, Roscoe and I have the privilege to travel with Joey to each round this season, which really is a privilege because we get to help and watch him shuffle through all of the different hats he wears - announcing, racing, promoting, and now being dad. This first trip was full of some lessons learned. I thought I'd chronicle post-race what we've uncovered about ourselves, good and bad, and how each time we do it, we get a little more savvy.

Hanging with my crew. 
1. Bring towels. Bring several. Because sometimes your new-to-you motorhome might have a crack in the shower pan, and when your dirty, sweaty, smelly husband takes his first shower in the motorhome, water might spill out onto the kitchen floor as you're making taco meat. It's a real shuffle to try to handle a baby, keep the motorhome from burning down, and find enough towels to sop up gallons of water. Bring towels.

2. Expectations are worthless. Even though we came to watch Joey race, Elsie slept during said races. This is a good thing, because Elsie slept at the track.

3. Bring dry-shampoo. Because when the shower breaks and you have the option to wash your hair in the kitchen sink, which also has a leaky faucet, don't. I did. Instead, opt for a good dry shampoo. I won't make that mistake again. 
*Heart Swells*

The best lesson, although we already knew it, was how much of a family the motorcycle community really is. I got to see "the track" through the eyes of a one year old. I noticed all of the red-faced kids on their Strider bikes and the dads sweeping their kid's starting gates. I noticed the other moms there. I realized how much I appreciate them and all they do to make track weekends happen for their families. They do it with smiles on their faces and you'd never know all that's going on behind the scenes.

And I really noticed my heart swell at the sight of my husband in his Fox gear, baby in his arms, hanging out with all of our friends. I so appreciate the way our lives have evolved, and the "dudes" at the track really are our best friends. They are also fathers, brothers, and husbands. And I remembered that this is a giant and powerful community that will help us raise our baby girl, and importantly craft how she sees the world. 

Joey and Elsie checking out the dirt on day one
So now we have another list going about what to fix on the motorhome, starting with the kitchen faucet and the shower pan. We will uncover a lot more, and that's part of this new adventure.

We did get pretty lucky with the motorhome though. It kept the IPAs nicely chilled, ready to be handed out at the end of a long race day to all of the friends who stopped by to say hi, and that's a win in my book. The chardonnay too..

See you at the next round...

XO

Meagan

Revisiting who I used to be.

On a random rainy Sunday morning, I find myself sitting here, in a well-worn pair of boyfriend jeans and a cozy red flannel, hands cupped around a now luke-warm soy latte. The little one is a year old, and she's flashing me cheezy, toothy smiles as she toddles around her farm-scene play mat. She's making elephant sounds. I'm laughing as I say words that don't do anything other than fill the silence. Roscoe has taken up his residency on the sofa. The rain pounds the metal roof above me. The fire is howling. I am breathing it all in, and loving it all out.


Things have changed a lot this year. And things have changed a whole lot from the year before that, and the year before that. I have changed. I have learned. I have celebrated and I have mourned. A lot has changed. 

Lancaster Land has changed, as we are nearing the end of our Phase One Overhaul. We've added square footage, spent a lot of money, but began creating the home we want.

The Family
I have changed too. I'm someone's mom now. Someone cries for me at 2 a.m., and reaches for me with tiny arms, outstretched as far as they can go. Someone recognizes me by my scent as I pass her crib, and that wakes her. I am a part of someone else, forever. I can't stay up late anymore. I have to get up early every day. I never sleep in. I am always planning. I spend too much time on Amazon because it's just easier. Packages come and I'm so sleep deprived I don't remember ordering what's inside. I don't know what movies are playing or what season of The Blacklist I stopped watching so I don't know where to start back up. So I don't. I drink two IPAs and I really feel it. Yes, I've changed.

The real kicker is that I love who I am now. It has taken thirty two years to become me, after all. 

We do have to remember to revisit that person that we used to be sometimes. We have to pay tribute to our old selves. We have to dust off those cute wedge heels in the back of the closet and dig out our favorite dangly earrings. Trade in the flannel for a shirt that flatters, I tell myself. Go on a date with my husband, I remind myself. We have to see our friends for girls nights, and share a bottle of wine, or two, with our favorite people.  We have to sing loud in the car to an Eminem rap song pretending we remember all the words and we have to respect that we came from a place that was sometimes wild, often insecure and always honest.

We can revisit that person we used to be, and we should because it's fun. And then we go back to our lives that have changed so much, where being up at 2 a.m. isn't because we closed down the dive bar in town, but because someone is hungry or sick or just needs you. And that's okay.

Your Google History.

I have been toying with this concept about recent Google search history and how that defines who we might be, what kind of a person we are. It makes sense, right? It's about our interests, our fears, our ambitions.

Try it. What are the last few things you've Googled? And then ask yourself, who are you really? Do those things, in some strange way, define you? 

Here we go:
3. When is the Clek Fllo 2016 available? This is the babe's new carseat, I have yet to purchase because I've heard that the 2016 model has upgrades and is worth waiting for. She's getting bigger, our lives are changing every single day. And this is one of those big, scary, fun next steps that in Mom World signify that our little lady is quickly becoming not so little. I've Googled this seat, and a dozen others, a lot. I've read the same articles a lot. I'm a little obsessed by this next purchase, and maybe I haven't placed the order because even though she's ready, I'm not ready.

2. Oatmeal Muffins - Yummmmmmmm. I absolutley love it when Lancaster Land is ripe with an aroma of freshly baked goods. I love it when the Mr. gets home and his first reaction is a deep inhale, thankful for the home we've made together and the comfort that this brings. This afternoon, I held the babe on my right hip and awkwardly stirred a bowl of oatmeal into a delicious concoction with my left hand. Substitute coconut oil. Over-pour the flour, by accident. Whatever, I know it's a science and all that, but it's also an art. They were delicious, by the way. She smiled as we made a mess. I hope I remember these moments forever. We'll share the goods for breakfast tomorrow and share the memories with each other without ever having to speak of them.

1.  Dr. Joseph Beckman -I work for a nonprofit that focuses on type one diabetes research. It's amazing and I couldn't believe in it more. I'm also emotionally dedicated to another nonprofit organization, The ALS Association, and today some really exciting findings came out that tell us we're even closer to a treatment for ALS, and Dr. Joseph Beckman is behind it. Something I think about often: I hope that by living philanthropic lives, our little one will grow up appreciating the human spirit, giving to what she believes in and working to make the world better and people stronger together. Call me altruistic. I'll take it.

If I were go go even further, I'm sure I'd find things like "Kettlebell workouts" and  "Easy Weeknight Meals that Impress" and "How to pick a paint color" and "Natural ways to unclog a drain" and of course, websites like Nordstrom and Amazon and there's a lot of Wayfair and Home Depot going on these days. There's also probably some ridiculous data that counts not only the spelling of searches but the "worry" factor of 3 a.m., when the baby is awake and I don't know what to do, and I'm sitting in the dark, cuddling her in a rocking chair, asking the internet what other moms would do in that situation. I do not advise that anyone go this route, ever. Leave the cell phone on the charger. You do not need to know what crazy moms post about their babies at 3 a.m. It will only make you crazier.

I think my theory has some weight. It's beautiful, right? Who am I? Turns out, I think Google knows. I already did.

XOXO

Meagan


 

Make, spend, repeat if desired.

Years later, visiting the calves with my Aunt Linda and sister, Bethany.
I was probably thirteen years old when I was hired for my first job. I know that sounds alarming, but hear me out. I grew up on a dairy farm, and this "job" of mine was waking up every Saturday and Sunday at what I considered a very early hour to bottle feed the sweet-faced black and white baby cows. The older baby cows needed to slurp their milk from buckets, so I mixed powder formula with water from a hose, and poured the concoction, always with ample spilling into my rubber boots, into the troughs. 

I still remember those soggy boots squishing as I walked through mud to get past the rusty gates, the heavy bucket of milk weighing down the left side of my body as moved. Slipping and sliding, trying not to spill too much. 

There was a lot of schlepping and it was dirty, no matter how you cut it. Afterward, I was sticky and I smelled. I went back in the evenings to give the baby cows dinner. It paid five dollars. A day. Ten dollars a week.

Ten dollars a week was just enough to get me the best Bonnie Bell Lip Smacker flavors money could buy. If I wanted something big, I saved for it. And by something big, I mean fancy shampoo and conditioner that my dad wouldn't want to use. Hello Herbal Essences!

I miss the days where bubble gum flavored chap-stick was all I needed. I fast-forward through twenty years of education, jobs turning into careers, and I find myself here at Lancaster Land, with an income substantially higher than ten dollars a week.

We dispose of our disposable income quickly, just like I used to do. 

I buy groceries. Wine. MAC Lipstick because I'm a grown up. Diapers. Craft beer because I live in Oregon. I'm also buying yards of concrete and lumber and light fixtures and flooring and paying an electrician to wire the Lancaster Land addition. Things have gotten serious.

When we need to buy bigger things, like seven thousand dollars worth of drywall, we save. And then, we spend.

At the age of thirteen, when I got "off" work, I remember riding my bike down the long, narrow farm driveway. I remember climbing hay bales with my sister and my cousins. I drank whole milk and I was so relaxed, I didn't know that "relaxation" was a thing.
Enjoying a Red Chair IPA during a flooring break.

Today, my workday ends, and if the house is clean, and dinner is made, I find myself applying paint to freshly textured walls, or teaching myself how cut the new flooring with a chop saw so I can then teach myself to install it, all after the baby is sleeping and the baby monitor is working overtime.

Money is relative. Work is required. We make it, we spend it, and if we want to keep moving forward, we repeat the process. Just like I did with the Herbal Essences when I was thirteen. 

XOXO

Meagan


Bedroom Conversations.

It's late. It's dark. I slip my legs under the cotton sheets, the overhead fan swirls the summer air all around me. Outside I hear the lullabies of crickets and coyotes. 

The Mr. is next to me, arm reached out and I snuggle in for a restful sleep. Before I drift off, he sweetly says to me:

"Thanks for washing my gear."

I smile. "You're welcome. It was gross. I had to wash it twice. Oh, I talked to the contractor about the addition today. And did I tell you..."

...and we continue talking about pricing, schedules, and next steps. 

"Did you run that square payment?" I whisper back.

"No, I forgot. Too busy today." 

...and we keep talking about money and plans and savings and budgeting.

"Are you home all week, or are you traveling?" I slowly ask, eyes getting heavy.

"Yes. No. Well, I'm not sure. Let's compare calendars tomorrow. Are you?"

"I think..."

Together, we drift off to dreamland.

Bedtime conversations at Lancaster Land are too often business meetings. The Mr. is the CEO of Lancaster Land. He's the idea guy, and oversees something he calls "organizational morale" - which means he keeps me sane, calm and ensures fun is to be had especially when stress runs high. I am the CFO, which is a really hard job around here. 

I find myself juggling my full time job (which I'm so thankful for and love so much), figuring out how to be a mom every day and hopefully doing it well, keeping Lancaster Land running and financially safe, while at the same time enjoying the heck out of all of it. 

Relationships sometimes mean that the boxes are checked off of your to-do-lists and that the life you're living is a responsible and productive one, and most importantly, that you're doing it together. Business and romance can coexist, even in the bedroom.

What it isn't.

Can someone be proud of the things they don't have?

Sure, I'm proud I don't have a flesh-eating virus, but I'm talking about the good things. The big-picture, life-changing things. Those - can you be proud of having a little less in your life's portfolio? I think so, because leaving space there makes room for the equity of your dreams to grow and grow. And that's the kind of equity I want.

Recently, and also not so recently, I've posted about all the things Lancaster Land is. And most recently, during a conversation with the hubs, I found myself feeling so much so I could taste it...the frustration with all the things Lancaster Land isn't. Because, let's be real.

It isn't a huge house with plenty of room for our family to grow.

It certainly isn't a manicured lawn, and honestly our lives don't allow for much time to manicure anything. Especially my nails.

Lancaster Land is not well designed.

It isn't clean on the outside, and sometimes it's annoyingly and frustratingly messy on the inside.

It isn't easy by any means.

It absolutely isn't the place I thought I'd live so many of my adult years, spend so much of my hard-earned, squirreled-away money, and it really isn't the place I thought I'd raise my family.

And most of all, it's not, nor will it ever be, a finished project.

As a catch-all, Lancaster Land as it sits now, and especially as it was when we purchased it, wasn't part of my well-orchestrated life plan, which I created at the wise age of twenty.

The plan didn't go: Graduate college, marry a dirt-biker, buy a fixer upper, never be home to fix said fixer-upper, live out of cell phone range, have snakes in my backyard. You get the picture.

The thing is, I'm not complaining. Because Lancaster Land is a great place to breathe in the moments as we snuggle our baby girl. It is a great place to raise our family, and we don't need extra square footage and a dream kitchen to do that  It's been a hard lesson for me to learn that giving up the original dream leads to the ability to live an even better one; that letting go helps you grab on to something much bigger. And, I'm proud. I do have to remind myself on occasion that all we're doing here is slow going, because we're doing it and that's slow. And in ten years, we can sit back and look at how much we've done.  And we'll feel really freaking proud.

But we won't sit for long, because I can imagine there will still be work to do.

That is Life at Lancaster Land.

Good overflows, so slow down and enjoy.

Everything is moving so fast these days. That's probably because we're fast-moving. I have mentioned the Lancaster HelloGoodbye before. It happens...a lot. Here's why:

LancasterLand Schedule
Monday:
Mr. is away on work trip

Tuesday:
Mr. is away on work trip

Wednesday:
Mr. is away on work trip

Thursday:
Enjoy the afternoon together. HelloGoodbye.

Friday:
Mr. is away on another work trip


Saturday:
Mr. is away on another work trip

Sunday: 
Mr. comes home late. Enjoy dinner. HelloGoodbye.

Monday:
Mrs. is away on work trip.

And so it continues. It's a constant state of juggling, missing, wishing and endless strategic planning. I'm not writing this because conveying a Life is Hard message is important. Because yes, life is hard sometimes and that emotion and that struggle isn't reserved just for me. But in retrospect considering my own life experience and suffering alongside others, our life is  chock full of good. Good is overflowing. Hard days come because we're human. And the days when we are apart, now especially with the little miss are especially hard now. But the lesson, friends, is to embrace the alone time. We all have such power in just being by ourselves and being able to reflect within, and being alone hands that power to us.

The flip side of the HelloGoodbye coin is this: The times we spend together are so valued. SO VALUED. They are full of BBQs that go late into the night and exploding with lets-make-the-most-of-it plans. They force us to slow down, to listen, to experience and to be better to each other because HelloGoodbyes don't leave time for petty things.

One night together means making up BBQ pizza recipes, sharing a bottle of wine, and keeping one eye glued to the baby monitor in case little miss needs us.

Can there be two flip sides? Because the other good that comes with all of this is the fact that we retain our independence. We're our own people. We're better together, sure, but we're really good apart. 

XOXO
M

Where the wild things grow.

This place is alive.

Figuratively, sure, this place is alive. It's alive with hopes and dreams and fears and ambitions. It's thick with all of that.

These just started growing, wild.
Really, though. It's alive with things that bloom and things that grow and things that taste delicious in these sweaty summer months. It's a challenge, you know. Living life at Lancaster Land, and always being on the run. The things that are alive take over.

The Mr. and I are on the go, a lot. I'm not talking about grocery store runs, although we're human and those things happen too. I'm talking about week-long work trips and weekends full of separate commitments. And sometimes, during this busy season which tends to last all year, we exchange our hellogoodbyes at the front door; he's arriving and I'm leaving.

Hellogoodbyes are hard.

Our lives are in a constant state of motion, and stuffed full with all of the good things. With all of the movement, we have to focus and refocus on all that's good, and often times, we are forced to stare out at what suffers.

Blueberries.
 Lancaster Land becomes the land of where the wild things grow. Because when the days are long and the nights are warm, one of two things happen. First, we're gone. We're apart. We're doing that moving forward and working to be better thing. The second, we're home. But we're sipping wine on the deck, enjoying the view of the overgrown wilderness, contemplating if the raspberries that have taken over the hillside are wild, and if they are, how wildly delicious they'll be.We're enjoying the northwest summer and somehow, it feels like it's enjoying us.

The yard suffers. The lawnmower is lonely. The field grass has grown so tall that Roscoe can't see over it when he runs and jumps through it. The house gets messy. But those are all things. Remember, life at Lancaster Land is an experience. Let the lawn grow. Let the weeds rule. Let us enjoy our time here.

It's a jungle out there.
XOXO



I'm Roscoe and I live here too.

I'm Roscoe. I live at Lancaster Land. Arguably, I spend more time than anyone protecting, watching, and playing here. It's my house, my land, but I let the Lancaster family live here. I even let them sleep on my bed. I think they've got it pretty good.

I know my mom has been writing gushy words about how much she and the Mr. love it at my house, but I thought I'd steal the thunder and tell you what it's really all about. 

I'm Roscoe and I live here too.

At my house, I ride motorcycles. It's like some kind of miracle that I can throw one of my legs over the seat of a bike. Humans do it. Actually, humans do it all the time here. When  I do it, the humans laugh so hard, like it's the funniest thing they've ever seen. So, I sit there, listening to them laugh, thinking about how easy it is to entertain humans. 


The other day, I really took it up a notch and rode a 3 Wheeler down the driveway. I  steered it because I had to. Because Mr. Lancaster wasn't getting to me fast enough and I was about to crash into an embankment. I'm not an idiot, people. Push the handlebars to the right, and the thing turns. It's not rocket science, but I guess over one-hundred-thousand views on your social media thinks otherwise. I love the attention, so keep sharing it. 

I'm Roscoe and I live here too.



I dig here. Because there are MOLES and MICE and BUNNIES. And I'm not sure, but I think they taste delicious. So, I monitor the territory, smelling and listening all the time, waiting. I'm waiting for just the right moment when I feel movement under my feet and catch the right scent. It's then that I dig my paws into the soil, throwing the dirt behind me voraciously. My nose gets buried into the ground, sniffing. I don't often catch what I'm looking for, but the chase is more than half the fun.


I run and jump and play and when we go on car rides, I sit in the front seat because the baby is in the back seat these days. I look at the cows and the horses across the field, and I wonder what it would feel like to stand so tall. 

It's not all fun and games though. The "protector" part of my job description is serious business. I have a family to take care of. And the baby, well I know she can't take care of herself at all. Mr. and Mrs. do a pretty good job tending to her, but I have my hourly smell checks, combined with gentle kisses, just so I can be sure the little one is doing OK. She cries sometimes. When she cries, I have to find a human to make sure they pick her up and kiss and smell her too. She is my greatest responsibility and my greatest fear. They tell me that soon she'll be big enough to lead me around on a leash, and run with me and dig with me and do everything with me. Right now, I'm happy just doing everything for her.

I'm Roscoe, and I live here too.

We may never leave...and that's why we're always late.

When I married the Mr., I was punctual. I was arrive ten minutes early and that's on time punctual. I was proud of that. Gosh, I was proud.

Mr. Lancaster has a nickname. Late Lancaster. I swear I didn't give it to him. I promise it existed way before me. Once we became a pair, I tried to bring him back from the dark side.  At one point, I started giving up and it became practice that when we'd be at an appropriate time to leave, I'd look at him, notice he was still shoe-less, and I'd just head to the car. Waiting. Waiting on Late Lancaster. I didn't get it. It was getting old. 

Now, I get it. And now I'm a Late Lancaster too. 

Fast-forward past the purchase of Lancaster Land, and the thousands of improvements completed and the thousands more not yet even thought of. And together, we're always late to everything. I lost the fight, but I think I actually won a different kind of battle.

We had plans to see The Lion - if you haven't seen it, do it. Shameless plug commencing - it was far and wide the best show I've ever seen, and I've seen a lot. 

"Let's leave at 4:30."
"OK"
"It's 5:00. We should probably hit the road."
"OK"
"It's 5:30."
"OK, let's go."

Lancaster Land is a black hole. It sucks you in. But, it sucks you in to a dream world. Into vivid imiganiation-land. Into nothing and everything and it's all insane. It's a money pit, and yet it's the best kind of investment. I think I've just talked myself into realizing that Lancaster Land is the biggest living contradiction in the universe. I'll always have something to roll my eyes at. I'll always have something to smile about. 

Our commute home.
Now I realize the Lancaster lack-of-punctuality isn't a flaw. It's an unapologetic gratitude to the home we've made. We're late because we never want to leave. We've turned our home into our biggest project and the place we stay to vacation. No matter how long we're here, there will always be something to ride, jump, cut, mow, trim, burn (my favorite), wrench, polish, or tend. There will also always be a deck that needs lounging, a book that needs reading, a Roscoe that needs petting,and a bottle of wine that needs sharing. 

Meet Roscoe. More on him later. He's got his own talents.

Perhaps it's best if you come to us. That way, we'll be on time. 

Don't forget about the waiver. You can borrow a helmet.

Nightime.

The nights are quiet here. Except they're not. 

I realized this last night. Mr. Lancaster was away, and friends came by Lancaster Land for some wine. The next time I talk about friends visiting Lancaster Land, I won't have to add that wine was involved, because it always is. I recently said to someone, "I'm good at two things. Pouring wine and starting fires." My sister was nearby, and she quickly responded. "No, but she really is." I was proud. I really like both of those things. 

Anyway, last night...

We had grand plans of guitars and heavy pours around the usual Lancaster Land bonfire...and yes, that's a girls-only kind of thing we do. Unfortunately the liquid sunshine took precedent, and we stayed inside talking of everything and nothing at the same time. 

One of my friends, who has seen more of the world than any of us could fathom, stood in the downward droplets on the deck for a moment and looked into the sky. "It's so quiet here." she said. I nodded. Most nights are this kind of quiet at Lancaster Land. We don't hear horns, and there are no streetlights. There are no noisy neighbors and you can see the stars. You can really see the stars. You can almost reach into the sky and touch them. I smiled as she said this, but inside, I thought about how wrong she was. 

The road is long, but worth every mile. 





It's not quiet here. But it's the best kind of loud. 

Crickets. 
Cows.
Wind through fir trees, alive and howling.
And the rain. Oh, the rain. On our metal roof. The rain.

That's nighttime. Daytime is lawnmowers and tractors and the ping ping ping ping of the two-stroke motorcycle. It's hammers pounding nails. It's the thud of a shovel hitting the dirt and the indescribable sound the dirt makes as it's thrown across the field into a pile. Over and over. The pile will be built for jumps. Of any kind. It's music, lots of music. It's life.  

And the laughter. The laughter is what Lancaster Land is all about. It's why we made this place and why we continue to make this place. 

When you visit, I hope you listen. I want to know what you hear.