This move has changed me in a number of ways that seem small, but have big outcomes:

  • I’m friendlier.  I have to be.  It would make no sense to come to a place where I know practically nobody and continue with my antisocial ways.  I’m not actually antisocial, but, of all the words people who know me well would use to describe me, “friendly” would not be in the top 10.  I’m very much an introvert, but to the unknowing, that can look like unfriendly or aloof or just awkward.  Moving to Sydney forced me to start conversations with complete strangers on a regular basis . . . something I would never do back at home unless forced to.  I can still be clumsy at it, but I keep going.  As proof, I hosted a One Year in Sydney party at a local restaurant and had 50 guests!

  • I have a range of new friends, some of whom are people I would never have given the time of day to at home.  I had a pretty robust social life in New York and Washington, D.C., and wasn’t really going out of my way to augment it with new people with whom, on the surface, I had little in common.  Here in Sydney, my close friends span the 20s to the 60s in age and are from a wide range of ethnicities, backgrounds, and socioeconomic levels. I love it.
  • I host dinner parties on a regular basis.  People who know me well might have just hit the floor reading this.  In New York City I hosted a few Thanksgiving dinners, but other than that, someone who got a meal at my house would have had to just happen to be there when I’m hungry and preparing my own meal.  Or we’d have a meal delivered.  One could count on one hand the number of times I hosted a dinner party.  But I do it all the time here.  Aussies love American food and are continually asking for mac ‘n’ cheese, cornbread, potato salad, and whatever else we can think of that sounds particularly American.  One reason I feel so comfortable doing this is that they don’t know the recipes well enough to know if I got it quite right or not!
  • I’m taking swimming lessons.  I have struggled with swimming all my life and had mostly given up on it, deciding maybe this is something I’m not supposed to do. This was certainly easy enough to not even think about, because the logistics of swimming in New York City didn’t feel easy. But if I’m ever going to get it right, it will be here in Sydney.  We are surrounded by beautiful (and inexpensive) public pools all over the city and some of the most wonderful beaches in the world.  I have no excuse to not keep trying.
  • I hike now . . . all the time. Something I’ve never even considered before.  A few weekends ago, my friend and I hiked Mount Kosciuszko, the highest point in Australia.


The author at the top of Mount Kosciuszko.

And those are just a sampling.  I feel as if I’m learning a new language; Aussies say they speak English, but I’m not so sure!  They have slang, and shortened versions of seemingly every word, and all kinds of weird sayings, and they never call anything by its correct name.  (Probably a bit of an exaggeration… and the truth is that I love that, too.)  At least once a day, in my English-speaking office, I have to say to someone, “What does that mean?”

I think one of the best things about being here is the way it has opened my eyes, my mind . . . and my life, really.  Not only is it never too late to start anew, but I can’t personally think of a better time for me to have embarked on this adventure.  At 61, I feel as if I’ve lopped 20 to 30 years off my life.  How often do we get a chance to start a brand-new life?  Australia suits me.  Who knew?

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  • AA April 28, 2017 at 9:18 am

    So happy you have embraced your new life! Thanks for sharing!!

  • Dr Pat April 28, 2017 at 7:16 am

    Dear Eleanor,
    We loved hearing from you and are thrilled that this adventure has become the right sized life for you at 60! Your story is a tempting template for many of us who would like to create a new life experience with work that is interesting and an entire circle of new friends. Now I have someone to visit in Sydney!
    Thanks so much for writing.
    Dr Pat

    • eleanore wells April 28, 2017 at 6:02 pm

      Thanks so much for continuing to give me the opportunity to share my voice, Pat. The “rightsizing” series is perfect. I do hope you’ll visit Sydney while I’m here!