Riding The Clutch – 2022

Riding the Clutch (Is It Really That Bad?)

If last year was just a bit ‘meh’ then this year has been the year of transition and the notion of ‘riding the clutch’ feels like it fits as various ‘gear changes’ are still in progress rather than complete.

Non-pastors – It has been changes aplenty everywhere. Probably the biggest shift was when we finished in our paid roles as pastors at both Quinns Baptist and Yanchep Church in late August. We knew this had been coming and we were well and truly ready for the next phase of life as ‘non-pastors’.

I won’t lie – it has been really enjoyable waking up Sunday morning and knowing that I have ‘options’. We have chosen to stay at both churches, but generally we only go to one per day. When you love the people it’s not hard to do, but equally we now have the opportunity to take a weekend away here and there which is a wonderful feeling – even if we haven’t had enough space in life to take advantage of it!

Final paid gig…

Aussie basketballer, Patty Mills has been a bit of an inspiration to me over the last 12 months in regards to life shifts. Around this time last year he was in the starting five for the Brooklyn Nets and was playing some amazing basketball. Then the season ended, the various player trades took place and he found himself sitting on the bench, playing a few minutes here and there to give rest to the starters. What I love about Mills is that he leads either from the floor or from the bench. He never stops being an encouraging presence and a potent leader. My hunch is that half the reason Ben Simmons has found his way back into the game is having a Mills alongside him cheering him on. I feel a bit like Patty at the moment in relation to Christian leadership and ministry – on the bench, but not zoned out or resentful – just aware that some younger people need to shine and that requires me moving into a different space myself. Just last week Brooklyn had 8 starting player injured or unavailable and Mills stepped up to lead on the floor. He played a cracker of a game, showing that he hasn’t lost the capacity – and given the opportunity he can still do the stuff. I certainly don’t feel our days in Christian leadership are over – we are just in the middle of a gear shift. I really don’t know what form our lives wiil take over the next 10 years, but I am open to all sorts of possibilities

Pain Gone and… back again… I entered last year with really bad sciatic pain from a dodgy piece of spine pressing on a nerve. In February I had an operation to fix that – and it did… Pain gone! Then after 6 weeks new pain emerged. Soooo… disappointing… An MRI shows a different section of the spine that is the issue now. So I have lived with new pain for the last 9 months and am trying various ways to resolve it other than more surgery. The up-side is that I can now surf – it’s just that walking is hard… I’d like to do both…

15 years of retic has taken its toll on the spine

One option I will be exploring is the use of a neuromodulation device that is first tested on you and if successful, implanted in your hip area to negate the various pain signals. I’ve been waiting for the 12 month mark on our health insurance to kick in before I go and get sorted here.

At the end of the day pain is not cancer, MND or anything ugly and terminal and I have been able to work with it quite reasonably so I’m ok – just a bit over it. So I’m hoping 2023 will be the year of no pain…

Business Shifts – After 15 years of Brighton Retic operating as a one man band with casual & subbie help as needed we have moved to hiring our first full time worker. It was a massive shift for us and one that is working out really well. I have lived too long with the fear of ‘what could go wrong’ rather than the expectation of ‘what could go right?‘ As I focus here I see lots of potential so hopefully the years ahead will see retic occupying more of a back seat in daily life, while generating enough income to sustain us.

Up to this point I have still been going hard as it’s busy season and Brett has been learning the ropes, but come the new year we will shift more work his way and less my way.

Brett doing an amazing job!

Back when I started my caravan weighing business I advertised that I also install diesel heaters. (It was a little overstated.) I had installed a heater in my own van a few years ago but I thought it might be a useful sideline activity. Then in April I had my first call and a request to fit a heater. I was a little nervous as I hadn’t been down that path for 2 years – but ‘how hard could it be?’… Right?…

Diesel heaters!…

Turns out its not that hard and when you get the knack it’s a great little winter gig. Usually we escape the cold and travel over winter, but this year we stayed in Perth and I was busy most days with installing a heater for someone. The down side is that I didn’t get to enjoy the ‘quiet season’ and it has meant that this year has been work, work, work… Good work – fun work – but still work. And while I was enjoying seeing the new business spark along, I was also working my body fairly hard rather than giving it a break. I want to keep slowly developing this business, but I don’t want to create a monster workload.

I agree it’s a nicer problem to have – needing to knock work back than chasing it down – but I’m yet to find a pace that I want to maintain.

Publishing 2 Books – I didn’t expect to do this, but somehow its’ what happend.

Finally I got to a point where I was ready to release The Future is Bivocational into the wild. I still remember the day my first box of hard-copies arrived in the mail. It was like having a third child – a flurry of emotion and overwhelm!

Interestingly I haven’t had too many cringe moments – where I wonder ‘what was I thinking when I wrote that?!’ If anything I really feel like I said what I wanted to say and if it has currency, it will get read and accepted. I know I need to send a few to key people with ‘influence’, but I just can’t get on the self promotion trip and tell you how great it is etc.

If you’re interested buy it – download the sample on Amazon – it’s free! So far my Amazon royalties are up to $200 exactly. At this rate the book may pay for itself by the time I die.

While this was the book I had been working towards since March 2020, the other book has been an ongoing labour of love too. For the last few years I have produced photo-books with a range of photos from my yanchepbeaches365 instagram page – and then this year I thought I’d tell some stories as well – short vignettes of where we have observed or experienced the kingdom of God in our local community. It’s titled ‘On Earth as in Heaven’ and only available from me direct or our local cafe (Orion) in Yanchep. I love this book as its’ focus is not thought provoking or cerebral ideas, but very simply beauty, both natural and communal. Someone once said ‘we are the stories we tell ourselves’ so in this book I have sought to tell stories that will give shape to a beautiful, rich community. My hope is that as it circulates our local community and further afield people will be inspired to live more into these ‘stories’.

Travel – After 6 months away in 2021, we were ready for a more home based year. Add to this Danelle had quit work and taken on caring for our parents as needed which meant there was plenty to do. Mum has fairly advanced Alzheimers and while she is a very happy dementia patient occasionally she goes walkabout – so a nursing home is on the near horizon for both of them.

How does this relate to ‘travel’. It’s one of the reasons we have limited our travel. It’s just the stage we are at in life. Even so we did manage a month in Scotland and Italy, travelling to the Outer Hebrides, the Scottish Highlands and then Rome, Florence, Venice and Cinque Terre. Scotland was stunningly beautiful and Italy was interesting to experience, but a little too busy, crowded and dirty for me to enjoy as thoroughly.

Outer Hebrides – beautiful!

But it was a month well spent, frequent flyer points used and an opportunity to see some new places. I hope we get to hop back in the caravan shortly and go do some local travel and on the radar for some time this year is a month in Bali, near a surf break. A year out of surfing due to my back injury meant that as I have hopped back on the board my balance and reflexes seem to have lost their way a bit. My hope is to keep surfing until I am 70 and then take it a day at a time – but I feel like some time spent finding my feet again would be good. So if we can map out a month in Medewi then I imagine it will happen.

Family Life – Our house feels very different now with the kids long gone. We had a nephew stay with us for 9 months, but he has moved back to the north west so its just Danelle and I living in this big ole house…

We have some ideas for the future, but as with many things we are holding them loosely and tentatively. Its not altogether clear what the future holds, but it is nice to have options rather than being stuck.

A Christmas day surf with my kids was a lot of fun – even if there were no waves…

Our kids have both done well with Ellie now working as a nurse in the city and living in her own place down that way. Sam has started studying Physiotherapy and it living south of the river – quite a way from us, but closer to Curtin Uni. I have enjoyed every stage of our kids’ live and this ‘adult’ phase is one I am loving as we chat and engage as adults – even if dad still does foot the bill (very happily) any time we head out to dinner!

New Initiatives – I like to try and invest in at least one new interest each year. This year I have been enjoying watching the NBA and rekindling a bit of my love for basketball. I wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy the game like I once did, but watching some phenomenal athletes at work has been very cool. And it’s not uncommon to hear the odd cry of glee and amazement from me as I watch!

The new focus in 2023 is a bit more rigorous however as I will start doing some study in the area of professional supervision. I’m not sure quite what shape this will take in years ahead, but I know this is an area where I can make a valuable contribution so I’m keen to do the work and get equipped in a more comprehensive way.

Depending on how things go with our parents and how much they need our attention we may look at doing some interim ministry roles in country towns. The tension of this is that we have to leave our own community to do this and we always find that difficult, but with a mobile business and a range of ways we can contribute, this is something we see as happening at some stage in the future, if not 2023.

So we keep riding the clutch – trying to remain available and flexible, but also sufficiently focused on our business projects to enable a transition to the next stage of life – whatever shape that takes. as someone who likes to nail things down this fluid stage is an interesting one to navigate – but it simply can’t be anything else at the moment so we will simply live it and enjoy it!

So that’s 2022 for us in a nutshell.