Two steps forward…

It had all the elements of a great family trip. There were college visits for my oldest, days at beach, golf outings, tennis matches, chats with locals, shrimp and grits, cooking in, eating out and plenty of ice cream runs. Last week we took a family vacation to Charleston, South Carolina. It wasn’t strictly a birding trip, but I, of course, had to squeeze in at least a few good-sized dollops of birding. (My chat with some local watermen while out in the field one morning is worth a post all its own, so stay tuned!)  

Now, you may recall that I am trying to nip my issues with bridge/driving anxiety during my Big Year and I am using birding in my attempt to do so.  Well, this entire week I had Charleston’s beautiful Ravenel bridge staring me in the face. I honestly didn’t give it much thought.. but I’ll admit my mind did occasionally wander to images of the day I would sit in the driver’s seat while making my way over that bridge.

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Charleston’s Ravenel Bridge

One afternoon, while perusing the downtown Charleston shopping district, I ran across this book.

IMG_9623I am not lying to you when I say I picked it up and put it down 10 times. I was trying to decide whether I wanted to stop right there and read the whole thing in one sitting or put it down and never ever pick it up again.

I figured Mom’s Big Year is already more than half over and it was time to add a whole new dimension to this Big Year thing!  Gull-billed tern, Sandwich tern and Least Bittern were all seen in the last couple weeks at the Pitt St. Causeway on the OTHER side of the Ravenel Bridge.. so the choice was clear…THIS was my ticket.. These target birds were my carrot to get me over that bridge.

Well, by golly, without giving it much thought, I just buckled down and DID it! I took the helm and sailed my way right over that bridge with my hubby in tow! And we missed our target birds, so I did it AGAIN the next morning at sunrise.. Out and back. ALL. BY. MY. SELF!  I could hardly believe it.  Now, it wasn’t without anxiety, but it was a feeling I hadn’t ever felt before.  I was getting better, I just KNEW it. Eleven years I had been avoiding bridges like this one and I did it!  Two days in a row!  I didn’t care one little bit that I missed my target birds those days (ok, maybe I cared a teeny bit), but birds aside, I drove over that bridge!

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Birding with my honey on the OTHER side of the bridge! (Note the bridge photo-bombing us in the background)
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Tri-colored Heron – Pitt St. Causeway, Mt. Pleasant, SC

After eleven years, the whole experience was less climactic in the actual moment than I expected.  I dropped the family off at the beach in the afternoon, so I could chase a Wilson’s Plover that had been seen recently a few minutes away. Then suddenly, the magnitude of what I had just accomplished finally hit me. As my youngest closed the car door behind him and ran out to the beach, I started to cry.  Mom’s Big Year had yet, once again, gotten bigger… and this time it wasn’t about the birds.

Now, Saturday was travel day back to Maryland and with my newly found ora of confidence I decided to take the wheel and give Rt. 95 a whirl as we made our way home.

How did that go, you ask..?

NOT well.

In complete contrast to my masterful driving the day before, I felt like I was on a roller coaster spinning out of control and dizziness and panic started to show their nasty countenances. My legs and arms started getting numb, and my lips tingly.. After 30 minutes of attempting to power through my driving anxieties like my counselor had taught me, I decided that for everyone’s safety, it was time to pull over.

The tears this time weren’t the happy tears I had cried the day before.  They were tears of frustration and feelings of failure as I hung my head and pounded the steering wheel. I thought my issues were over and that I had entered a completely new era. The reality was there plain and simple… I had not.

Fortunately, my kids and husband quickly reminded me of how far I had come in just a few days and clamored with words of support and comfort from the back seat.

Two steps forward, one step back… These seas are going to be tougher to navigate than I could ever have imagined.

I recall when I first started the Big Year, my very wise and dear friend, Marcia reminded me that I can’t eat the elephant all in one bite.

She was 100% right.

 

 

8 thoughts on “Two steps forward…

  1. Love your openness Nancy! Love, and support has been nurtured in your family, and all who read your blog are encouraged by the “McAllister Nest”. A parked car never gets where it is going, so the start is the important part. You have started, and THAT is important. There maybe be starts and stops, but you are…going!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The most important words here are “two steps forward.” Proud of you! “You can’t eat the elephant in one bite.” I like that expression. There are so many good expressions and sayings regarding life. Hear the ones you need when you need them most. Thank you as always for sharing your journey!

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  3. I’m proud of you Nancy! It is tough to face issues like you are facing. Baby steps are OK.
    I should get you a favorite Austin bumper sticker, “Onward thru the Fog.”

    Liked by 1 person

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