Motherhood: Now vs Then

“You’ve never had it so easy, we had nothing in our day”. A statement I’ve heard many times from older women as we whip out our disposable nappies and crack open our organic Ella’s Kitchen pouches. The app’s, the kids tv channels, the sleep aids, the video monitors – the list is potentially endless, and fortunes have been made on the ‘must have’ baby items we find within arm’s reach. So when discussing the now and then with my mother-in-law, I was a little taken aback when she declared that given the choice she’d rather raise children fifty years ago than now, as the pressure today seems overwhelming. In the 1970s it was expected that once you were married you would have children and in doing so often gave up work, which in turn created a simple way of life that she feels is now lacking. She kept coming back to the pressure she now sees mother’s cope with – the mortgage, the career, the childcare, the kid’s clubs, the housework, the holidays – an ever-increasing list that seems to have mounted as the decades have passed.

So, what’s changed? Well one observation has to be consumerism – we see, we want, and we get. Years ago she explained there was less access to childcare so you couldn’t often return to work, the cost of a new television was out of reach and a foreign holiday, well dream on! As the price of all these things have come down our expectation and desire to consume has gone up. I had a little head-in-hands moment when she said our playroom would have been called a toy shop in her day. It’s also not limited to physical goods, we seem to crave information and data. There are app’s that monitor our babies progress and forums fit to bursting with advice – it can simply be relentless! With all of these products and all of this information are we actually slowly chipping away at our own confidence? Instead of falling back on our instincts or common sense is our default position seeking out others for reassurance? Years ago, and when Alexa was still just a girl’s name, you had limited resources on which to call, so you did the best you could.

Over our second glass of wine we debated who had it better? In the red corner, the mother-in-law representing ‘we didn’t have much and it worked for us’, and me in the blue corner representing ‘convenient consumerism keeps me sane’. There was a back and forth on the good, bad and ugly of the internet. We verbally jostled on the role and expectation of women in society. We laughed at the “how much an hour?!” baby swimming lessons that had more of a “get on with it” and “that’s the deep end” explanation in years gone by. But ultimately, I’m confident to wave a flag of thanks for the here and now. As a woman our career opportunities are abundant, albeit with a huge need to improve flexible working. Travel is largely affordable for the masses, so we can show our children the world and give them experiences previous generations could only read about.

Yes we need to wear many hats now but ultimately we have the power to manage the pressure we put upon ourselves. We can turn off the noise we fill ourselves with on social media, we can opt out of comparisons, we can hear our instincts if we choose to listen. Yes there was a simplicity about motherhood in yesteryear, but that simplicity could also extend to the opportunities you had as a woman, which sadly could mean not having any at all. My mother-in-law was absolutely right about the pace of life we all seem to be racing in and the increasing pressure that seems to be weighing mothers down. But we get to choose now, we get to say stop and seek the simple life that our mothers and grandmothers remember fondly – so keep reminiscing as there is much to be learnt from taking a look back as we all march on forwards.

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Two things…from Hemingway and Fitzgerald

F. Scott Fitzgerald sent his final book, Tender is the Night, to his friend Ernest Hemingway asking for an honest review. The letter Hemingway sends Fitzgerald, detailed in Letters of Note, is just that and pulls no punches in his critique, but it certainly struck a chord with me.

Firstly it took Fitzgerald nine years to write this book, that’s right nine years. Once you have an idea there is a growing pressure to get it down and get it done, and this in fact only stifles you further. Will my book take nine years? Perhaps. One thing I am learning fast is that you can’t demand creativity on tap or to fit a predefined schedule. It is no coincidence that some of the best ideas happen in that place between daydreaming and sleep or on that long car journey where your mind is engaged yet totally free to wander.

Secondly Hemingway, in this 1934 letter, gives all writers food for thought throughout, not least in his own appraisal of his work. “I write one page of masterpiece to ninety one pages of shit. I try to put the shit in the wastebasket.” Yet again we have to remind ourselves of the process. That in committing to anything worthwhile there has to be an acknowledgement that it is unlikely to come easy, and that the very process is what we should all cherish as it is happening, rather than become fixated solely on the goal.

Having once run the London Marathon, albeit very slowly, I can tell you that the training is something I recall often. I can see those routes, feel the unrelenting winter weather and remember the miles getting ticked off my chart. The actual day itself was gratifying but doesn’t come close to when you had to truly dig deep, alone, miles from home on a country lane with just your legs and determination to carry you back.

So this week is about accepting and embracing the process, and acknowledging that creativity isn’t a first passed the post activity. Now is the time to enjoy this craft, now is the time to write some shit and not be afraid of the wastebasket, because there really is no waste in moving forwards.

 

You have to care…

I’ve just read All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, an acclaimed and highly prestigious award winning novel. It is without doubt beautifully written, there are phrases and sentences that leave you feeling in awe of his descriptive talents. Yet, I found myself ‘getting through’ the book and willing the end to arrive. Why did I not love an award winning and much raved about book by thousands of others, well the simple truth is I didn’t feel like I was part of the story, I felt very much like I was reading a book.

That sounds bonkers but for me the joy of a book isn’t being impressed by well placed phasing and rhythm, it’s about good old fashioned immersion into a story I feel invested in. I want to be in the room with them, feel like they are real people to me and care about what happens to them. Reading is a joy I save for bedtime which means it can last approximately 3 minutes 45 seconds before I physically cannot keep my eyes open, so those minutes count and I want to be thrown back into a story that I can’t wait until bedtime for.

So whilst I very much admired the craft and quality of Anthony Doerr, it has been a lesson in making sure that my characters and situations are something people feel they are in, and care about. A job which is immensely easy to say and hard to do. So I will look to one of my favourite authors who never fails to welcome me into the page, Rosamunde Pilcher. I have read Winter Solstice, The Shell Seekers and Coming Home countless times, each time like new and each time transported to a world where I believe and care about them all.

So like anything in life, if you find yourself not caring you first have to ask why, and then promptly move onto the things that are worth handing over a bucket load of emotion for. Where is the fun in observation, whether it is literature or life, we should all get stuck in and be in the room, be present and quite frankly my dear, give a damn!

I need a habit…and praise!

The pleasure from carving out 30 minutes to write is unrivalled, yet this week it has been increasingly difficult to get the impetus to sit down and type. Much like the gym where I will crash around telling all who will listen that I hate exercise, the reality is that I will skip back from a class fist pumping this thing called life and ready to take on the world. So how do I find that motivation when I am over 6 months pregnant and chasing an 18 month old around who thinks getting dressed is an affront to his human rights?

I need a habit.

I’m a big fan of Gretchen Rubin’s books – well worth a read if you are interested in self-improvement/reflection – and she talks about repetition being a key component in habit forming, so basically I need to write every day. The plan is to do so at 1pm each day when the little man breaks from his whirlwind of destruction to sleep, garnering enough energy to continue his project for the rest of the afternoon. So tick, we have a window of opportunity.

What I also learnt this week is that a tiny amount of encouragement goes a long way. How often do we actually remember to tell people ‘well done’, ‘that was great’ or ‘can’t wait to see more’? I am probably guilty of saying this too little to my nearest and dearest on their accomplishments, perhaps being too British about it and thinking it, not saying it. Well let me tell you to be on the receiving end of positive affirmations is incredibly powerful, it gives you that virtual kick up the arse to march forwards. I think I will remember most the people who want this writing achievement as much as I do, and knowing that has made this process infinitely rewarding in itself.

Right it’s 8am, much to do before I sit down at 1pm.

I will sit down at 1pm. I will. I will. I will.

The Writing Road Trip

It’s easy to have incredible enthusiasm for something new. We charge off head first into a perceived long term commitment which turns into a short burst of intent, with little planning to see you through. Guilty as charged! I’m thinking the gym, the faddy diets, oh and the desire to write a cracking yarn.

A few thousand words, even 10,000 in my last project were typed at pace and with a smile – this is awesome! Yet as the increasing word count racks up so too does the lack of focus, the tangents, the shallow characters, until the steam very much runs out and I have no idea where it’s going. Now this can be no bad thing for many people, a first draft is a first draft after all, but what I have learnt is that I need a plan.

Organised should be my middle name, not Elizabeth. Unbridled delights are found in a plan, I LOVE a list, and collect notepads full of musings. My happy place is knowing what we’re doing, in all walks of life. So it’s funny it’s taken me until now to understand that in order to write a good story, you need to know how it begins, how it progresses and how it ends.

Sounds simple, yet I have been seduced by the desire to begin so often that it has eclipsed the need to have a focus. So this week has been about plotting out the main events in the story, ensuring that there is a structure to fall back on when the inevitable doubt creeps in. What’s also incredibly useful is acknowledging that this very plan can adapt. As the words flow and the characters jump out of our imagination and onto the page there is room for letting it grow.

So I’m thinking like a road trip. I know where I am starting, plus a few sights I want to explore on the way, with a destination in mind. Who is to say though what will crop up, what might be stumbled upon, explored and created?  I’m betting this planning process and permission to divert will only make the stories we have to tell all the more interesting for it.

KW

This week’s task: Character development – souls with substance

What if it sucks?

I’ve never had it so good. After years of wanting to find time to write more, what better time than now when I am at home and answer only to my 18 month old son? Yes aside from the demands of being a mother, let’s be honest there is time in the day to do so, despite there not being enough to iron. There is never enough time in the day to iron.

However instead of grabbing half an hour whilst my little man is playing, or a couple when he is lunchtime napping, I find myself tidying, drinking tea, reading magazines, watching Housewives of New York (awesome, get involved).

The above is a very real form of self-sabotage.  I will idly flick through Instagram, hugely inspired by the community of mum’s getting actual amazing shit done, juggling more babies than I, yet doing nothing about it myself. It’s like eating crisps whilst watching a workout DVD. What motivation do they have that I don’t? I am the only person to think no-one will care, read or give a damn about anything I do? No of course not. So what am I afraid of?

It’s an affliction I have had all my life. I can’t stand, abide or accept less than excellent. I want to be the best. I like being told I am good at stuff and crave that praise. So by putting out there the thing I love most, my writing, I am basically opening up my vulnerability too. So I listen to my self-doubt and say it won’t be good enough so why bother. It’s a form of such severe self-editing that nothing gets written at all.

However before we feel like all is lost; I have recently had an awesome idea for a story. An idea that I can see, and feel, and hear, and immerse myself in and imagine who would play the lead in the movie, and… can you tell I am excited! For the first time in forever I feel like I know where this one is going. My long suffering family who do nothing but encourage me have heard many a plot that begins and fizzles out. This is different.

So in for a penny in for a pound, here is where I am going to write about the writing process. How it comes together, where to start, where to get inspiration, how to maintain enthusiasm when you actually think what you have written is poop. I am wading into these literary dark and treacherous lands of structure, protagonists, narrative, plot, suspense and all with no real idea of what I am doing, so why not join me. Great writers, they write, a lot, so let’s get started I guess.

 

 

Pregnancy: 101

Having convinced my husband on our honeymoon that we needed to ‘crack on’ with getting pregnant, as a spring chicken I’m not, I approached it with that nonchalance that comes from thinking it’ll happen first time, first month. So when it didn’t, the sixth month was the time to apply some science to proceedings. Now being an Account Director, time plans, spreadsheets, actions and deadlines are totally up my street. So out comes the thermometer and graph paper and I begin tracking my basal temperature. Each morning you take your temperature and patterns emerge that you can follow to indicate ovulation. What also emerged on my chart was an indicator of when I was suffering from a banging hangover. In the pursuit of recognising when my ovaries were feeling good, I could also tell when my kidneys were anything but. So my temperature spikes went a bit like this….drunk, drunk, fertile, fertile, drunk, drunk etc. Brilliant.

Low and behold the sauvignon did not hamper efforts that month and Baby Wears was on the way. A great way to find out you’re pregnant is on a Sunday morning when you are so hungover it makes more sense to have a breakfast Mimosa than acknowledge what the next 12 hours is going to bring you. There is nothing quite like having a glass of booze in one hand and positive pregnancy test in the other to sober you up – parent fail number 1.

So as we marched forwards on the next 35 weeks of fun, here are a few of the non-NHS observations along the way….

The Body

It’s bonkers, never have I ever appreciated what a clever thing this arms and legs package is. To grow a baby your body changes so much to facilitate new life that it’s quite extraordinary – from slowing down your digestion, to increasing your blood volume, to making room for them – it’s a marvel.

Yet when recently looking into the contents of my handbag I soon realised how much life has changed. That spare pair of knickers at the bottom are no longer packed optimistically, reminding you of a time when you lived so fast and loose that a night out with the girls could mean an impromptu sleepover. No, this has much more to do with sneezing and a weak pelvic floor than rolling into a cab at 3am on a Wednesday morning. Same knickers, different life.

Drinking and swallowing are a new hazard as you now have the ability to choke yourself. On more than one occasion a mouthful of water has been projected across the table, work surface and car as your windpipe has remained open, due to everything being a little bit slower and softer in your body. Even whilst talking, your own saliva is a threat. Who knew?

As the weeks tick by you laugh as you look back at pictures when you were convinced you had a pregnancy belly, which by the time you’re hitting 39 weeks merely looks like indigestion. A particular highlight of the expanding tum is the discovery of the inside of your belly button. Mine has not seen the light of day since I was a few weeks old, tucked back in its hole, the bottom of that little cave has been given a new lease of life on the outside. Out pops the fluff and it’s the smoothest, baby like skin you’ll ever feel on your own body. I’m letting it enjoy its time in the sun, soon its back to the darkness.

General weight gain is also an interesting one, remembering as it creeps on that it’s the very best reason to get a little porky. There are a couple of indicators for when you’re hitting your peak, for me these have included the following comments.

Husband: “Your eyes are little”
Truth: The 1990s moonhead of youth has returned, enveloping my features. Shit.

Husband, said to every other female we know: “Wow, you’ve lost weight”
Truth: No-one has lost weight, you’re looking at me every day and everyone looks thin.

Friend: “Wow, you look younger”
Truth: The 1990s moonhead of youth has properly taken hold. Shit.

Other Friend: “Ahhh, you’re blooming”
Truth: You’re massive, I love you, but you look like you’ve eaten yourself.

The Mind & Soul

A huge positive is you realise actually how nice people are. Never have I chatted to more postmen, people on trains, strangers at pedestrian crossings or old folk. Old folk, pretty much anywhere. They’re all so keen to ask how you’re feeling, how long you’ve got left and wish you the best of luck.

Then there is you. As this little thing starts to kick and flutter a bond begins that is unbreakable. Before it’s drawn its first breath you know you couldn’t feel more love for someone you’re yet to meet. To undertake this next step, and create life, with the person you love is such a gift. Having waited that bit longer in life to experience this, the joy and privilege of this is not lost on me.

As the sleepless nights draw nearer and the thought of trying to reason with the unreasonable, I’m going to remember how during the last 40 weeks there has never been so much excitement to meet a little person, who for better or worse, is a bundle of you and yours.

In the meantime we have that little thing called labour to contend with. My two year old nephew keeps asking “Has the baby popped out yet?” – I’d like to share his optimism that it’s going to be akin to shelling peas but the NCT classes have indicated a different kind of reality. As my husband said only last night whilst pointing at my baby mountain “That really big thing has got to come out of that little thing”. Yes darling, I know.

Wish me luck x

 

 

What’s your perspective?

There are three sides to every story, a quote that resonated with me today.

Your side, my side and the truth.

This got me thinking and it struck me how much we’ve had to contemplate in the last 18 months – where we’ve put ourselves on one side, or the other.

Just in the political sphere we’ve had a Scottish Independence referendum, General Election, Labour Leadership Election and now the In/Out EU referendum.

We make decisions based on our default position – our own experience. Be that gutfeel, knowledge, upbringing, family and friendship groups. All these things influence who we are and what we think, which is fine, right? However do we actually ever seek more than our own perspective? I fear not enough.

One of the major debates going on right now in Europe is that of immigration and the ability for Europe to cope. The path to a solution for this is not going to be easy, without sacrifice or issues that will be borne from integration. But what is staggering to hear so often is that humanity has lost its voice of concern and been overwhelmed by a crescendo of fear. Have we really taken a step back to think about refugees who risk the lives of their children on a daily basis to find a safe haven? Have we considered what life is like when the best option in front of you is one that could result in death – have we really thought about that? Truly?

No, we talk about the strain on the NHS, the lack of houses, the benefit system, the overcrowding – we default to own perspective, we default to ‘me’. It’s hard to imagine life and death choices like that so I find context and consequence within my own environment, where I have knowledge, where I have experience, where I have examples to draw an opinion from.

When a teenager uploads a picture on social media, or a celebrity raises an opinion that is divisive you don’t need to wait a long time to see the negativity explode before your very eyes. Judgement has never been so instantaneous. So when did we become judge and jury with little contemplation or empathy on another point of view, set of beliefs, or culture? When did an opinion manifest itself so closely with anger and negativity?

Where curiosity, empathy and interest should exist, distrust and scepticism prevails.

So what makes this matter?

It matters because more and more we’re seeing a society that is becoming polarised. Where we find comfort in the familiar and unchallenging and where so often ignorance can be justified but shouldn’t be so easily accepted.

It matters because as we go through life, we are the very people who have the power to influence our own circle. Our friends, colleagues, children and parents – we need to be the people in each circle who ask those around them to think harder, to question and to debate.

To walk in another’s shoes, to seek the truth from their eyes, to leave your experience at the door is to be empathetic. An action that is opening your mind to a reality that can be as harsh and cruel, as it can be generous and rewarding.

This doesn’t just apply to ‘big’ or global issues either. Every day in every interaction that we might find challenging, there is an opportunity to question another person’s perspective. What is going on for my colleague to behave that way? Why can’t my family see my point of view? Why doesn’t my partner take initiative?

The more questions we ask that enable us to understand another point of view, the more generous we become. The more generous we are with our perspective, the less one dimensional we are in our views, each other and our environment.

So let’s not lose curiosity, let’s seek to ask more of ourselves than an opinion based on the boundaries of our own experiences.

Surely this world and the time we have on it is to be shared generously – be that with our time, our thoughts, our hopes and most importantly our compassion. I’m convinced taking that occasional step back has the ability to propel you further forwards than you ever thought possible.

 

Me vs. the black flatscreen of loveliness

So it’s been over a month since my post about giving up TV and some non-scientific analysis has concluded the following.

Tiring Talk
So you get home, the commute is done and the next thing to do is think about dinner. Or rather action the thoughts you’ve had all day about dinner, now that it’s the designated time to have that huge bowl of something yum. After some saucepan searching and general kitchen faffing you’re heading well towards 8pm. The other half comes home and you sit down for dinner and there begins the discourse. Week 1 of the trial and talking was a joy to behold, there was much to be said. It definitely is good to talk, that ad was right.

But as the clock ticked towards the watershed our eyes were drooping and it was genuinely hard to stay awake. We were talking ourselves to sleep, either we need better after dinner chat or this is actually a natural reaction to your body being in a quiet room with low lighting. When you think about it, and particularly these days, it’s rare to not be surrounded by noise, chat, advertising, people – there is a lot going on.

So by switching off the TV, we were also switching off the stimulation that keeps you buoyed up until you can fight it no longer and bedtime calls. Without the distraction and constant stream of stuff in front of your eyes sleep was calling a lot sooner. The brain was unwinding and quite rightly thinking that the only other time it is this quiet and peaceful is when I’m about to fall asleep.

Therefore is TV relaxing? In some ways yes as your brain can push other stuff away and chill out, however it’s also good to give those free thoughts some space. The things you talk about because you can are pretty important. Invariably if something is on your mind from the deep to the shallow, it’ll still be there but by talking it out there is very much a sense of serenity. The nicest feeling from the experiment was that calmness, that quiet, that time to take stock.

TV: 0 Me: 1

The Wonders of Work
So Week 1 was a revelation, I was happily telling all that life is better without the telebox. However, as a known fad fan I should have realised that Week 2 was going to be tricky. Following the initial chat fuelled evenings discontentment started to creep in and I’d walk passed the lounge giving a fond glimpse into the dark room. My destination then became the study.

Running, a new craft, more writing – those were the goals of an uninterrupted evening but instead the work To Do list was too tempting and instead after a day at work, logging back on in the evenings became something useful to do with my time. This is not a pop about work as work shy I ain’t but this perhaps nods towards my lack of discipline at doing something new. Trying to form a new habit was harder than falling into what’s familiar.

I realised that Monday to Friday = Sleep, Wake, Eat, Work, Eat, TV/Work, Sleep. Repeat.

Cripes.

Here I will now defer to my London Marathon experience which has been the highlight of my fitness career. Before and now after no running occurs, but when that ballot place came through the door and that highly sought after place was mine, well that was it. I had to do it, no arguments.

Non-scientific analysis concludes I need a third party involved to ensure I do as I’m told. Leave it to me and you’ll find me in bed, at my desk, food in hand, or on a sofa.

TV: 0 Me: 0 Work: 1

Sunday Sadness
Many of us will be familiar with the Sunday night sense of doom. As the hand ticks past the hour of five each minute that passes signals your weekend is ending and it’s 120 hours until the next. But without TV, wow, Sunday’s are hard particularly and especially if you are hung-over. This happened at the end of Week 2. And this is where I begin to admit that the month long abstinence from TV started to crumble around me. The boys were on the sofa in joggers, eating snack food and laughing at re-runs of Friends, as we put ourselves back together from a biggish night out. So my options were sleeping all day but I’d given that a go. So lacking the energy to leave the flat I gave in. I fell into the room dramatically crawling towards the TV, reunited at last. Quick as a flash I skipped to the planner and my 2 weeks away revealed Masterchef had begun, yes! I had many drama’s to catch up on so whilst the following week I did try and stick to my mission, by the third weekend I was indulging big time on all that I had missed.

TV: 1 Me: 0

Conclusions
From the scores on the doors it appears everyone is a winner, which is a pretty fair assessment of my experiment. It reminded me of the importance of actually speaking to the people you share your life with. Bonus. So TV is more selective these days but Sunday’s anything goes, when all manner of dross can be consumed and is.

The lure of the iPad in bed is back and Game of Thrones is the poison. I missed the hype first time around so this is new and awesome. Sleep is now more interrupted, I get less of it and my dream content is out of control, battling my own dragons and forest people.

As vices go then the black flatscreen of loveliness isn’t something to be concerned about, and if I really want to do something else with my time, outside instruction is required.

So when Diane, a very lovely client (this bit matters), said to me that the book I’m writing needs to be completed by 15 November, well we know what happens next, and particularly when a client gives you a deadline.

I had to do it, no arguments.

Staring down the barrel

A girl’s weekend away in the Cotswolds with four lifelong friends, and the subject matter of activities will come up in any pre-meet planning session. Being partial to admin I happily relish the opportunity to research and provide a shiny new itinerary. So having found a local shooting school, I thought bingo, then checked with the group and off we wend.

Much chat was had on tweed attire, some in the group totally smashing the brief, others resided in designer boots, but boots never the less. But as we walked into the range glances of unease started to scatter amongst us, the banter got quieter, we jumped as a shot fired in the bunker beside us, and soon there was blatant and spoken allowed apprehension.

We were unexpectedly and totally fearful.

Now this could be related to the aftermath of the cheese and wine we’d tucked into on arrival at our abode the night before, now causing the all too familiar hangover anxiety. But some of us were actually shaking when John, our guide, asked us to come up and hold the gun, and it wasn’t even loaded yet. With one gun between us we all took turns so there was no chance of being left in charge of anything remotely dangerous.

John loaded and held the gun in place, encouraging us all the way, but my turn came and these feet of mine wanted to walk exactly the other way, back across the car park and home. Taking it into my hands it felt heavy and consciously my fingers kept tucked away from the trigger. You pushed the butt down into your shoulder, nestling there, ready for the recoil, all the actions were in preparation.

‘Now?’
‘Yes’ said John.
‘What, now? Put my fingers on the trigger?’
‘Yes’ said John.
‘Ok’

I didn’t want to.
But then quick as a flash, the clay is in the air. Now! Bang!

Even our lightweight 12-bore shotgun packed a massive punch, it didn’t hurt but it shoved, pushed, thumped back against you.
And then relief. And then YES, I got it, I hit it, woo-hoo.
So there began a really strange dichotomy of feelings. We’re all pretty competitive so whilst feeling hugely intimidated and strange, we also got into the sporting spirit of things. Part of this was a weird ‘pumped on adrenalin’ reaction as the truth of the matter was that each time returning to the gun, we began to shake again.

Holding a gun in our hands was having a psychological and physical impact. To see an inanimate object and for it to naturally repel you, that is powerful. This object, this machine, that doesn’t function without you, cannot load itself and hurt you, still made us want to run – it was flight, not fight.

Winding our way through the lanes and safely stowed back in the car we thought about carrying a gun in our bag, or next to our bed, and it was inconceivable. Perhaps so inconceivable because we don’t need a gun for defence, but there are many that do, or feel that they do.

So then is it shoot, or be shot? Or have the option to shoot, if shot at? There’s a stat about those who carry a weapon are most likely to be injured or killed by that weapon, not their own necessarily, but where there is one gun, there is usually many.

So if in a country where gun laws are relaxed, would you like everyone else keep one close to hand? Has that fear of the gun itself been lost, so that it’s slung in a bag like your phone or wallet, or tucked into a belt, like a shirt. Is there less intent to fire and instead power is possession alone – the gun is a bodyguard, a security system, a fear-instilling force.

What started as a bit of sport, a bit of fun, made me question so much. I guess one question is would I want to handle a gun again?

The answer is no. That’s not because I can’t take myself there, get over it, or get used to it. The very opposite in fact, because I purposely want to keep that anxiety. I want to be scared by its power, its destructive possibilities, its force.

Face your fears, yes, but you can also cherish them – not everything needs conquering.