Love, life and the whole season’s shebang


Twas the night before Christmas

And all through Brisbane

The Global Goddess continued

Her hunt for some men


Her stockings were hung

On the back deck with care

With hope she could catch

Saint Nick in her lair…

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MY Christmas tree is older than me. And, if possible, even daggier. This story begins some 46 years ago, when my parents were first married and bought their first Christmas tree. Every year that tree would come on holidays with us to the Gold Coast, shoved into the Kingswood with me, my three sisters, and our budgie. And every year it would return home with us. Until one day, one of our uncles gifted us a brand, spanking, new tree, and our original tree was retired.

Some years ago, I somehow stumbled across it and adopted it like a long, lost family member. I am not a particularly nostalgic person, and yet I love this tree. It speaks to me of sublime summers on the Gold Coast, hot, scratchy nights with sand in the sheets, sunburn on the skin and mozzies. Of bleached hair, sandcastles and waking up on Christmas morning to new summer swimmers, pink pyjamas and adventure books.  That’s the thing with memories. You can’t muck around with them.

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The other day a friend was telling me about a sad scene he encountered while out shopping. Picture two little kids and their mother in a wheelchair. The kids were skipping along the path, excitedly chattering about the new clothes they were about to buy for Christmas. Until they arrived at the store and it was closed. The store was St Vincent’s de Paul and, being run by volunteers, was  operating on limited hours. But these little kids didn’t know this and started crying. Their wheelchair-bound mother had what appeared to be a slight seizure. My friend froze. Impotent with the scenario unfolding before him and, with a wallet full of credit cards but no cash, unable to assist. He came home and wept.

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An acquaintance of mine talks about his work Christmas party the other night. In a bid to survive the bullshit and big egos which have dogged him all year, he decided to bring his own festive cheer in the form of an illegal substance. It was this illegal substance which he was casually dipping into his drink when his bully of a boss came over, demanded my acquaintance hand over the drink to his boss, who couldn’t be bothered to wait at the bar for his own.  Apparently, the boss was in an uncharacteristically jolly mood for the rest of the evening.  


Everyone I talk to seems to speak of a tough year. The headlines have been peppered by sadness, loss, tragedy.  Global economic conditions seem to have spawned a new breed of bully bosses. More and more people such as that woman in the wheelchair are buying their children clothes from charity shops.


But I also believe it’s a season for hope. I’ve personally asked Santa for a hot tradie under my daggy old Christmas tree, which, if it happens, could possibly constitute a break and enter, if not a miracle. It’s a time to rejoice and to reflect. Look towards the future with optimism. Try to be a better person. Express a bit of gratitude.

On that note, I wish to thank everyone who has followed, read, laughed and cried with The Global Goddess this year. I’ll be back in 2013 with more stories, more travels and, if Santa knows what’s good for him, maybe even a bloke or two.


 If you have your own Christmas story to share, I’d love to hear it, via a comment below.

In the meantime, I wish you peace on earth. 

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A Date with Destiny

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DEPENDING on your point of view, we’re facing either the end of the world, or the end of the year sometime in the next two weeks. For the record, I’m going with the latter, but in any case, I thought it might be timely to provide a little festy…I mean festive, update on my dating success.

At this point I should warn you, you could stop reading now and be just as wise as those who make it to the end. Or, if you’re really bored and trying to kill those last few days at work before Christmas, please read on.

In recent weeks, and in no particular order, there’s been a host of potential new suitors, via my dating site. Let me introduce you to some of the men who’ve been contacting me. I don’t want to brag, but they’ve been practically lining up to meet me (or, in the case of the photo below which I took in Laos some years back, are much more enlightened souls than those on my dating site).


My most recent admirer has been a bloke who calls himself Rough Diamond (obviously, he doesn’t work in PR). Rough, 42, doesn’t believe in apostrophes, but does like fishing, camping and 4×4’s. He apparently cooks “a mean muffin”, has a dog called “Bundy” and listens to Guns and Roses. The real treat was Rough’s answer to the kinds of sport he liked: “If you can class drinking as a sport, I guess I play that.”

The next fella calls himself Caloundra Bloke. Caloundra reckons we have “a lot in common” but exactly what that is remains a mystery to me, for despite asking him to actually fill out some of his profile or perhaps email me with a few highlights, he refuses. I can’t help but wonder whether Calounda’s wife knows he’s on a dating site.

Andy P, also from the Sunshine Coast (ladies, there appears to be a pandemic of single men on the Sunny at the moment), actually engaged in a one-hour internet chat with me, in which he revealed he had retired at 37 and owned a yacht called Chardonnay. Andy asked me how I’d feel about a sunset sail, some seafood and some good conversation, to which I replied: “That sounds great!”. At that point, I never heard from Andy again. Now, I’m either doing something wrong, or Andy’s yacht is actually a tinnie.

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Finally, there’s Tantric, who, as his name suggests is Indian. The problem with Tantric is that he also lives in India and has asked me to come and visit him which is a little outside the 50km radius I’ve stipulated on my profile. Apparently his name means “Shiva” in Sanskrit and he is looking for his “Shakthi”. I’m not entirely sure what a Shakthi is, and despite doing a bit of yoga and meditation lately, I don’t think I’m the girl for Tantric. 

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Which leaves me with the same old question, what to do about dating? According to a recent report in the Fraser Coast Chronicle, you now download a Virtual Boyfriend App, tailor him to meet your needs, and dump him when he doesn’t make the grade. You can even download a Wingman App, when you’re lost for the perfect pick-up line which also comes with a pep talk for when you’re feeling a bit blue in the dating department.

I guess it’s all food for thought this silly season as we entertain the prospect of exactly who, if anyone, we’ll be kissing under the mistletoe. As for me, and knowing my luck, I will finally find a boyfriend…just as the world ends.  

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The reason for the season

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IT’S an uncharacteristically cool December Sunday afternoon and I’m toasting the festive season with some friends in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley at a leafy, outdoor bar when we’re approached by a woman asking for money. Two things strike me about this woman: she appears intoxicated and she’s with a group of friends when she asks whether she can have some change for a phone call. Whether she is genuine or otherwise is not for me to judge. Rather, it’s our reactions that interest me more. We’re all awkward and embarrassed. And frankly, don’t really know how to handle the situation. I look the woman squarely in the eye and say: “No, sorry, thank you.” She pauses for a brief moment, as if she’s comprehending her next move, then she simply looks back, and says “Have a Merry Christmas” before moving on to the next table.

The uncomfortable situation sparks a conversation among us. Did we do the right thing? Should we have handed her money? Would she have actually used it on a phone call or to buy alcohol? Australians are about as comfortable with begging as we are with tipping. Both scenarios are not part of our vernacular and we are clumsy when presented with them.

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A few years back, I wrote a story about confronting poverty when we travel for The Australian newspaper in which I stated: “Many tourists, with just a few short days to experience a city, grapple with ways in which to address the issue without making situations, like begging, worse. Few things test your character and mettle more than being exposed to extreme poverty, and the way in which you handle it can linger long after your plane has departed the impoverished land. At best, many travellers feel ineffectual and embarrassed, and at worst, some transform into the uncaring, ‘ugly Westerner’.”

At the time, I quoted a travel writer mate of mine Kristie Kellahan, who regularly volunteers in orphanages throughout south-east Asia, who suggested contacting aid organisations, such as the Red Cross, to assess the needs before you visit a country.

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Kellahan, who works with a Buddhist orphanage in Thailand’s Chiang Mai, advises travellers to think about what they are giving and avoid pushing Western values on to different cultures.

“People come to visit the orphanage and want to give the children reams and reams of toys and lollies and coke and ice-cream,” she said.

“What would be useful would be to turn up with medicine for baby formulae. But that doesn’t seem very exciting to those giving.

“You would prefer people bring educational supplies, things like blank exercise books, pencils, sharpeners and things like nappies for the babies.

“By supporting kids selling post cards and chewing gum, it encourages families to send their kids to the city and they may be missing out on essential services back home like education.”

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In my article, and with the advice of some incredible people working in the field of responsible tourism around the globe, I penned a list of things which travellers might consider before they arrive in a country and are confronted with the ugly truth of poverty.

 These include:

  •  Where possible, eat at locally-run restaurants and order local dishes, made from local produce
  •  Support local performances – many of which are held for free – and drop some money in the donation box at the end
  •  Buy locally-made souvenirs, straight from the source
  •  Speak to local charities before you go and ask the people-on-the ground best ways to make small differences when you get there
  •  Leave a tip for good service – it’s appreciated world wide whether you are rich or poor
  •  Donate an afternoon to read or speak English to local school children
  •  Continue to visit impoverished countries. Tourism is one of the greatest employers world wide
  •  Ask questions. Where is this money going? What are the benefits of donating? Become educated on the issues
  •  Tread carefully. Wait, watch and observe before you act

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So, what does this all mean back in Australia, the relatively Lucky Country?

Australian comedian Corinne Grant recently penned an excellent post “This Christmas We’re All Human” on The Hoopla in relation to this issue much closer to home.

“Any one of us could find ourselves in a difficult situation—a catastrophic illness that bankrupts you, a bad marriage break up that leaves you without a cent to your name, an undiagnosed mental illness rendering you incapable of making the sorts of decisions necessary to fend for yourself effectively. Becoming homeless is, frighteningly, far easier than many of us think,” Grant wrote.

In a timely reminder, Grant talks about the impact the sparkles and baubles must have on people who have nothing. Heck, I’m intimidated every time I see a Christmas advertisement from a major grocery chain in which (a) everyone appears to be middle-class and white (b) there’s an over-representation of white linen frocks and boat shoes and (c) everyone seems to be loving every other family member sick. I suspect, like me, that’s not the reality for many Australians. And, I imagine, even more devastating, if you are poor. (And let’s not forget if someone hadn’t loaned a certain young couple a barn in which to birth their baby, we may not be celebrating December 25).

VietnamCambodia2012 134“This time of year is miserable for the homeless. Many of the services they rely on close for Christmas or run on limited staff. Not only that, but everywhere they look are the cheery, tinselly reminders of a happy world full of food, family and love that is out of their reach. It must be crushing,” Grant wrote.

But what I took most away from her thoughtful post was her advice: “Next time someone asks you for change, look them in the eye. Give them money if you like but if not, smile at them and say, “Sorry, I can’t today.”

On Sunday, with Grant’s advice fresh in my mind, I looked that woman outside the bar squarely in the eye, and wished her a Merry Christmas back. It doesn’t solve the world’s issues, far from it, but for a brief second, we connected as fellow human beings. And surely, that’s really the reason for this season.

To read Corinne Grant’s post in full, please go to There’s a host of wonderful charities who assist those less fortunate at this time of year, including Vinnies –; The Smith Family –; and Lifeline –

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Serenity in seven minutes

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SHE wore a smile of smug serenity, the kind borne from hours and hours of meditation and, I suspect, being a gentle soul. I’m in country New South Wales for a three-day yoga treat and Basia, who calls herself a “tea advocate”, is performing a modern-day version of a Japanese tea ceremony to welcome us to Billabong Retreat.

My journey to enlightenment begins several hours earlier when my friend Jess picks me up at SydneyAirport in her clapped-out car which lacks air-conditioning in the middle of an Australian heat wave. It’s such a scorcher, I expect to see Satan himself behind the steering wheel.

Jess and I have a history of colourful trips which share an unwittingly similar theme. It’s always hot, there’s limited alcohol and we swim in interesting watering holes. In June it was Jordan’s Dead Sea, this time it’s an Australian Billabong the colour of black tea.

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I’m in the fittingly name Harmony Cottage on this 5000 hectare property replete with lotus pond. Jess is in a tent. Yoga takes place in a central yurt. I fall in love with the word yurt. Billabong is an eco-retreat where each guest is allocated 50 litres of water each day which are broken down as such:

  •  3 minute shower = 30L
  • 1 x full loo flush = 4.5L
  • 3 x half loo flushes = 3 L
  • Spare = 3.5 L

Guests are advised to save water and “shower with a friend”. If only. I perform a crude mathematical calculation in my head. If I don’t have a bowel movement for six days, I can afford another shower. Jess reminds me we aren’t here for six days, so my maths, as always, is flawed. In my spare time, I take to trading shower minutes with the other guests.

Paul and Tory von Bergen own Billabong Retreat near Richmond, about an hour’s drive north-west of Sydney. Paul, a former high-flying Londoner who made millions of pounds, lived in a penthouse and had a photo of a yacht on his desk, lost all his money in a bad business decision. He headed to Thailand where he discovered yoga, but instead of a lightening bolt, it was a gradual transformation on his path to serenity.

Rather than teaching guests the kind of power yoga that has crept into chic city studios, Paul believes yoga is about the mind. A kind of meditation yoga which dates back to 300 BC. Jess calls it Moga.

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“The fact you are twisting one way or the other way is almost here nor there, it is about peace of mind and health and happiness,” Paul says.

“Yoga was always about the mind for thousands and thousands of years. It was only really when it came to the West in the last 60 years that is has become dominated by the physical.

“For 4000 to 5000 years yoga was not about postures. It is about developing the mind. It is about neuroplasticity – the ability to retrain out minds.

“Whoever came up with that phrase ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’….that’s bullshit. It is about feeling better, living longer, happier and more contented lives.

 “As long as we’re heading in roughly the right direction, it is OK.”

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On a scorching Saturday afternoon we perform a Hindu chant 108 times – the number 108 believed to be the figure required to achieve enlightenment. I arrive at roughly the 38th Om and my mind starts to play a nasty trick. It reminds me it’s the weekend, my throat is parched from chanting, and I need an ice-cold Sav Blanc. It takes everything in my power to sit still and return to the next 70 chants by which time I forget Sav Blanc, let alone the sacred Marlborough region, exists.

Paul teaches us a simple seven minute practice that we can take home. Seven minutes to serenity. On the drive home and after a weekend of gorgeous vegetarian fare, I implore Jess to stop at the first coffee shop she can find before she drops me at the airport. I’m in the middle of a long check-in line when my tummy starts to grumble. I break into a cold sweat. Fuelled by caffeine and possibly the fact I can flush the loo all I wish, my bowels have decided upon the most inconvenient time all weekend to do what they are designed to.

I barely make it through check-in and rush to the toilet. Afterwards, I celebrate with a large carton of greasy chips and a New Zealand pinot noir. My enlightenment is tested three times on the way home. The first time, when the passenger next to me decides to shake a tin of breath mints all the way home; the second when we hit severe turbulence; and the third, when a maniac cabbie picks me up at the airport, road-raging his way to my front door. I practice breathing in and out slowly and saying “I am” over and over in my mind.

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I think back to what Paul has to say about this modern, frazzled world in which we exist.

“There is too much masculine energy in the world. We can be both, soft and strong. Women are better at that,” he says.

“I’d like to see more men at this retreat. It is the story of my life at the moment. I haven’t spoken to a bloke in three months.”

Welcome to my world Paul. Welcome to my world.

The Global Goddess travelled as a guest of Billabong Retreat. To find out how you can achieve serenity in seven minutes, go to or better still, book yourself in for an enlightening adventure.

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