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Lunchtime Conversation

Joan Dilworth

Lives - Sydney
Age - 58

She is a daughter, wife, mother,
grandmother, sister, sister-in-law, auntie,
niece, friend, career woman, mentor,
confidant, homemaker and Wise Woman.

Lana - I have been a close friend of yours for over 25 years and I think that you are one amazing and very wise woman. Tell us what you are doing at the moment? How do you fit all the things you do into one week?

Joan Well, I work 5 days a week for the same company I have worked with since I arrived in Australia 35 years ago. I have worked in many different departments and right now I am with the Sales and Marketing team working as a Key Account Manager.

I love my job and since my husband has semi-retired, I don’t have any problems fitting in all the things in my week. My husband Ben, has taken on the responsibility of managing the housework and all the associated tasks. So instead of spending my weekends doing what most working women have to, my time is generally free to do what we feel like.

Lana - I have always been fascinated by your history and how you and your husband first decided to come to Australia - can you tell us more about you reasons for coming, how did it feel to come to a foreign country without knowing a single person?

JoanWhen I met Ben (I was 17, he was 18) he was in the Navy. He had joined up when he was just 16, so he had travelled quite a bit.  I, on the other hand, had never been out of the U.K.  We were married in the early 70’s and at that time Australia was conducting a high profile advertising campaign within the U.K. trying to encourage skilled people to migrate.  In hindsight, we were very young, very ambitious and very carefree.  We sent for the papers (no email in those days, the postman handled all that stuff).  The papers arrived a couple of weeks later and before we knew where we were, Ben had secured a position with a very well known Catering company who sponsored us.  Everything seemed to happen very quickly from there.  We applied just after my 21st Birthday in February 1972 and we landed in Australia on 3rd June 1972.

You ask how it felt coming to a foreign country without knowing anyone. We really felt that we were on an adventure, we did not know a single soul, but the Company who sponsored us had arranged for us to stay with an English family for a couple of weeks until we found our bearings.  Were we ever homesick?   Ben tells me that I was in the early days, however, I really cannot remember that time.  We rented a small unit, close to Ben’s work and commenced our lives in Australia as “ten pound pommes”

Our initial intentions were to spend 2 years in Australia, go back to U.K. for a few months and then migrate to South Africa or Germany.

Lana – I am glad you and Ben decided to stay in Australia – great decision!

I can only imagine how difficult life must have been for you when you had your children without family around you and a support system. How did you cope?

Joan That question is really quite interesting, because we never discussed or even felt like we didn’t have a support system. During the early years our socializing was done with people we had met through both of our jobs.  We were young, no children and had a very good social life.  When the children came along we both learned together how to manage.   I was fortunate enough to find a wonderful lady who could look after the children for me when I went back to work part time. That lady is still in our life today, she looks after my granddaughter.

Lana - Maybe we should do a story on this wonderful, caring woman too!

Joan – She is a very caring lady who treat the children she looks after as an extension of her family. I’m sure she would be flattered to be asked.

Lana - You are a career woman, working full time, do you ever consider the idea of retirement and if so what would you like to do in retirement?

Joan - I honestly love my job, because I have had so many varied roles I never get bored.  I feel as though I still have so much to contribute that I really don't think too much about retiring.   I may reduce the days I work, but I am not even at that stage yet.

Lana - Was turning 50 a turning point in your life?

Joan - I thought it was when it happened, but strangely enough, in hindsight, I don't really think it was.  Because (unlike you) I have had a few years to get used to being in my 50's I really consider that it is simply a number. 

Lana – Joan are you giving me a compliment?

Joan – No just getting in first before you think of a clever response.

Lana – What does being 50 something mean to you?

Joan – I am much more comfortable with myself.  Probably for the first time in my life I feel "mature" Even though I sometimes don't act it. (I was on a jumping castle with my granddaughter last weekend). I actually do feel as though I have become, the best word I can use to describe it is, "calm"

Lana – Would you ever like to be young again?

Joan - Honestly Lana I don't think about it.  If I was young again I would not have the privileges I currently have. I don't mean financial or material things.  I mean things like, family, memories, and friends. I really feel I have been very fortunate.

Lana – I know you are completely besotted with your granddaughter, you were even there for her birth and cut the umbilical cord. Tell us what it’s like becoming a Grandmother for the first time?

Joan – A new beginning.  It is absolutely true that this experience was truly the highlight of my 50's.

My daughter and son in law have allowed us unlimited access to our beautiful granddaughter, and I enjoy the time we spend together so much.  I love the fact that she is always asking questions.  We go through periods in our lives where we are not exposed to children much, our kids grow up and our circle of friends don't usually have young children, so having a grandchild helps remember how wonderful growing up is. There is a magnet on my filing cabinet which says "If I had known having grandchildren was going to be so much fun, I would have done it first."

Lana – Any advice for new Grandmas?

Joan – Not really, except to say ENJOY!!

Lana – I know you have been on a health kick lately and it’s really showing. Tell us what you are doing to achieve such great results?

Joan – My health kick, as you call it, was really a change bad habits kick and try to loose the extra kilos that I allowed to creep on.   Every Wise Woman knows about the other WW, yes Weight Watchers healthy eating without too many sacrifices, difficult in the early stages, but removing bad habits pays off.  Walking on the treadmill while watching something I really like on TV is the only way you will get me to stay on the bloody thing. As long as I am not getting too hung up on my weight and I drink lots of water, I stay relatively healthy.

Lana – Who would you most like to have as a dinner guest if you could choose anyone in the world?

Joan – As you know I like to laugh, so I think someone like Robin Williams or Eddie Murphy could be highly entertaining.  Deep and meaningful conversation is not my idea of good dinner party patter.

Lana – You have been married for 36 years, what is your secret to a successful marriage?

Joan – Move 12 thousand miles from family! Only joking. 

I have no idea what the secret is, or even whether there is a secret. It has not all been plain sailing, I don't believe any marriage ever is, but I honestly could not imagine NOT being with Ben.

Lana – Hmm… 12 thousand miles from relatives…..

What has been your best experience in life?

Joan – There have been several, but I think the ones that stick out most in my mind are the most recent ones.  You will be surprised to hear that being at the birth of my granddaughter is up there. Choosing to live in Australia is also an obvious one. We have had a couple of extremely memorable holidays which are also up there.

Lana Those beautiful sun filled days in picturesque Santorini…..remember them well…

Joan, apart from you family and your FANTASTIC friends what do you love most about your life?

Joan – Where I am at the moment, my "calm" space.   This may change soon, but right now I am very content. 

Lana – Joan, you truly look calm and at ease with yourself and looking at you, you appear to exude a feeling of self confidence and wisdom. Is that how you feel?

Joan – I am not sure that I would describe it as wisdom but I do feel I have more confidence in myself these days. I also feel that I have many life experiences to share. Working with younger people it allows me to share some experiences with those who seek my help

Lana What is your theory on life and death?

Joan – You know that I am not a very spiritual sort of person so I don’t have any deep philosophies on the meaning of life or death.

Lana – What are you reading at the moment?

Joan – I have just finished reading Jodi Picoult’s latest book 19 minutes, it is a story about a troubled 17 year old that enters his school, where he has been constantly bullied and humiliated, and massacres some students and teachers.  The impact on the family of the shooter, as well as the families of the hurt or killed and of course the local community, is written with a real social insight. Jodi Picoult researches her books really well and there are always twists that may or may not surprise the reader. I found this to be a real page turner; I love her style of writing (although she can be a bit descriptive at times). I read somewhere that this reached No 1 Best Seller in the US within the month it was released.

I have only recently discovered Jodi Picoult. Over the last 6 months or so I have probably read about 5 of her books, the topics she focuses on appear to be media headline type topics. I think this is probably one of the reasons her books are so successful.

Lana – It’s obvious that you love reading.





 Thank you Joan for sharing your world with us, although I think that you were a little humble in describing yourself and what you have achieved and do! 

Joan Dilworth, you are truly a Shining Star and a Wise Woman!





Gigi ! | Tuesday, January 15, 2008 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0) | Permalink | back to top


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