Finding out where to go for help or just to be able to socialise with others is not always easy and I find that talking to people is the best way to start.
Growing up in an Italian family that operated fruit and vegetable businesses meant that being brave enough to start a conversation with a total stranger was really important.
You had to be able to talk to people to be able to sell them things and create a relationship that would have them come back again and again, it was more than quality of the produce it was also about the customer service. Having that confidence to be able to talk to people also helped with my work in real estate and later on as a solicitor.
My family is from the Aeolian Islands located between Sicily and Italy, and even though our English was good, there was considerable antagonism directed at the new Australians. I remember that on the weekends we used to get away to small farms at Diggers Rest, Cottles Bridge and Wallan that were owned by my uncles. On these farms we were able to just be ourselves. I am proud of my Italian heritage, it’s important to me, but running a retail business meant that we needed to speak English and this helped us to integrate a bit more and things gradually improved.
My wife and I raised six kids and when they were young I was working in the fruit and vegetable industry which meant social time was limited, this is also partly why I returned to working as a solicitor as I was able to watch the kids play sport on the weekends which helped to make friends. I have found that meeting with friends for social card games or at local clubs has also been great.
Having the confidence to start a conversation still holds me in good stead now as I get older and when my health improves I intend to volunteer as I see that as a great opportunity to socialise with people now I am on my own. When I feel well, I will go for a walk around the local streets in my neighbourhood, or to the local shops and talk to the people I meet.
I go to water aerobics at the local pool which helps with my legs and gets me out of the house twice a week, the class is quite large and its nice to see familiar faces each time. On the other mornings I also go to the pool to walk in the water and its easy to strike up a conversation with others doing the same thing.
I really enjoy reading so I try to visit the library as often as I can and I’ve also found this to be a great way to find out what is happening in the area. Quite often the library run activities which can be another way of meeting people. Sometimes I have also gone on my own to the movies or a theatre show, but I much prefer to go with a friend.