I’m often outside my element

If my memory serves me well (which it seldom does, lately), I have mentioned before how that before retirement, wood and I were mortal enemies.

Metals were my preference, but then a person’s interests change over time, as did mine. I always liked working with wood, but I was just no good at it.

Then when I retired, I noticed on a website I was visiting that there were plans available for a lighthouse.

As I’ve always liked lighthouses, I bought a set of plans for three different ones.

When the plans came, I realized I was totally out of my element, but I felt that if I had spent money on the plans, I might as well try. So I did, and slowly built all three. I was hooked.

Today, about 10 years later, I have a collection of about 12 lighthouses, plus a lot of other items, all made out of wood. I am really enjoying it, but now, what to do with all this stuff?

I have given some away, and sold some just to cover the cost of materials, but now my sheds are full.

Suggestions of how to dispose of them, and at least recover my costs, came from people suggesting I sell them online. But my cousin was the most persistent about renting a table at a craft venue, which subsequently, I did.

So now, every Saturday until Christmas, I have a new game to play, and I find that once again, I am out of my element.

Being out of my element, in my books, is doing something that I am unfamiliar with or uncomfortable with, and I began to realize that I had a habit of doing things out of my element.

One particular action was definitely in that category.

While working at the kitchen and approaching the Christmas season, I observed that all these folks I was serving had no place to go for Christmas.

Like many others, we always had a family Christmas Day, so to invite a street person into our home was not on the radar at that time.

But the feeling persisted, so then a few weeks later, we invited one of the girls and her friend for Sunday lunch.

We had a great time and made lasting friendships. I still see her now and then, but she has been back into the street scene, despite many attempts to put it behind her.

One of the results of having stepped out of my comfort zone is that relationships formed. With someone from the street, you tend to feel a sense of loss when they fall off the wagon. It’s almost like losing a friend; it can easily prevent you from befriending someone again.

Then, all of a sudden, they call for another visit, which just means you made some kind of impact.

Over the years, we have had many people come to our home, sometimes filling it with music, other times with tears, but we were enriched by all of them. We found many of them had different gifts that they were often eager to share with us.

Because of the nature of the different jobs I have held, I was used to working alone, so for me, being alone is not difficult.

What I find a little more difficult is interacting with people, because I often seem to get tongue tied not knowing what to say. I don’t think fast on my feet. I need to ponder things.

As a matter of fact, it often takes me out of my element.

Chris Salomons is a retired Red Deer resident with a concern for the downtrodden.

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