Hopelessly Devoted to You

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THE year was 1978 and my eight-year-old self was sitting in the old Coolangatta cinema on seats strung with scratchy hession bags, about to experience my first ever movie on the Big Screen. Grease was the word and from the opening scene I was so hooked on the movies, and on Olivia Newton-John, I’d forgotten I was slouching on an old bag of potatoes.
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Thirty-five years later, and around an hour down the road, I am about to become a personal guest of Olivia at her Gaia Retreat, in the Byron Bay hinterland. Well, she doesn’t actually know I exist, but I can’t help but feel we are old friends. I drive south through towns so deliciously named you just want to wrap your mouth around them like a huge, buttery, salty tub of movie popcorn. I meander around Mooball, bump along Billinudgel, tumble through Tumbulgum, before nestling in Newrybar, just behind which sits Gaia, named after the spirit of Mother Earth.
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Things are looking pretty good. The fact Olivia isn’t actually at the retreat doesn’t really matter, as I can feel her everywhere. I just can. She’s in the little personal touches such as the magic metal box of Australian Tea Tonic in your room where you can sip on brews such as ginger, lemongrass, Echinacea and white tea. There’s also lemon myrtle oil for your burner, and plush, chocolate bathrobes perfect for lounging on your day bed, or when you alight from your bath replete with rose petals and a cushion for your head. Yes, Olivia has thought of everything and I feel like she has personally plumped my pillows.
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You expect rainforest music on your CD player, but Olivia isn’t tacky (well, there was that little head band and leg warmer stage in the 80s but who wasn’t guilty of that?) Instead you’ll find So Fresh Hits of Autumn 2013 and you’re flat out finding a self-help book in the extensive library, which instead houses a wide range of contemporary reads and DVDS. What I do discover is Olivia’s “Livwise easy recipes for a healthy, happy life book.” If I’m going to look like Olivia, I have some work to do. And Gaia is the perfect place to start.
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Indulge in breakfast such as scrambled eggs in fresh herbs with smoked salmon; a lunch of chickpea tagine with cauliflower squash with yoghurt dill on the side; and snapper for dinner with a poached pear and chocolate dessert. And there’s even an extensive beer and wine list, including Gaia’s own organic wine range.
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In between, simply have some fun – there’s nothing hardcore about this place – as General Manager Gregg Cave says “all you have to do is surrender.”
Each evening, guests are handed their personal schedule card, outlining any treatments they may have booked in the day spa, or just general activities throughout the day. You can do as little or as much as you want.
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Yoga instructor Danielle speaks of “pushing the edge” – the point between finding your point of stretch and indulging the ego and pushing yourself too hard, resulting in pain. “The longest relationship we have in this life is with ourselves, so learn to love yourself,” she says. Nicollete, an “esoteric practitioner” extolls the benefits of becoming your “inner most” and operating from your “inner heart.” In her treatments, she looks at the root causes of symptoms in the body and what buried emotional issues may have triggered these.
“What we need to develop is a much stronger sense of self love in our body. Most of us don’t realise the importance of that,” she says.
“Often we put the needs of others before our own. You have more information to make more choices in your life and do things that is more loving for you.”
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There’s a wide range of treatments in the Gaia Day Spa, but The Global Goddess recommends the 4.5 hour Gaia Goddess/Gaia Man signature experience. Billed as a journey of “complete surrender” among other things you’ll undergo a body polish, cocooning body masque, warm oil scalp massage and full body massage.
There’s also an interesting esoteric breast massage for women and an esoteric shoulder massage for men, designed to tap into self love and if you so desire, a milk bath somewhere on the property. (The Global Goddess did fantastise about laying in a field naked in a pool of milk like Cleopatra waiting for her Julius Caesar but realised she’d have better luck finding a Caesar salad on this trip).
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Drawing on her Aussie roots, Olivia has built a retreat that is empathetic to the 10 hectares of manicured Australian bushland on which it stands, replete with its own fresh herb garden, pool, sauna, spa bath and gym. Walk to the Samira Lookout at the top of the hill and you are at the highest point in the Byron Bay Shire, from which you can scan the Lennox Headlands and Pacific Ocean beyond. Here there’s also a Buddha and labyrinth for reflection and meditative thoughts.
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You’ll find plenty of day beds dotted around the property, as well as hammocks strung between giant eucalypts from which to honour the rising and setting suns.
During my four-day journey I meet Olivia’s personal jeweller, who designs jewels for the retreat, and her comedienne friend Sandy Gandhi, who performed at Olivia’s 60th birthday a few years ago, and who is waiting for fellow comedienne Ruby Wax to finish her spa treatment. Ruby walks into the dining room, but there’s still no sign of Olivia and it doesn’t really matter. By the time I leave, I’m learning to love myself and it may have been 35 years, but Olivia I still love you…I honestly love you.
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ENTER A COMPETITION TO BECOME YOUR OWN GAIA GODDESS…
As a special treat for Global Goddess readers, and courtesy of the Gaia Retreat and Spa, The Global Goddess is offering readers the chance to win an amazing prize valued at $1585.

This lovely prize package includes two nights accommodation staying in the Layana Room double/twin; all gourmet meals and snacks; spa gift on arrival; daily yoga and all retreat activities; and use of all the facilities.

To enter, simply go to:
http://www.gaiaretreat.com.au/enquire-now/newsletters
and sign up to receive Gaia Retreat newsletters. The competition runs for two weeks, and will close at 5pm Australian Eastern Standard Time on Monday, September 9, 2013. Gaia will draw the lucky winner, who will be announced on The Global Goddess blog on Tuesday, September 10, 2013.

Oh, and if you’re not a follower of The Global Goddess, please do so, by clicking on the Follow button in the bottom right hand corner of the home page. Go on, it’s good karma!
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Good Vibrations

HAVING just finished the Fifty Shades trilogy and looking for my next buzz, I’ve just been to the movies to watch Hysteria. For those who haven’t seen it yet, it’s a delightful British romantic comedy set in the 19th century, which focuses on female orgasms and the ultimate arrival of the vibrator’s place in history. Based on a true story, women who suffered from an array of “symptoms” from being too outspoken to being sexually frustrated, were relieved of their condition or “hysteria” by manual stimulation to their genitals to the point of climax. When Doctor Mortimer Granville found his hand was cramping due to the huge spurt (if you’ll excuse the pun) in demand for his services, he stumbled across what would become the first vibrator.

Hysteria as a diagnosis was eventually put to bed, so to speak, in the 1950s, which in my opinion is a bit of a shame, given I have been known to suffer from being both outspoken and sexually frustrated often at the same time and on a number of occasions and would happily have a good-looking doctor relieve me of my condition.

 

While not hysterical, it’s a fun movie, made even more joyful by some of the one-liners including Rupert Everett’s character who succinctly states: “All a woman wants is a good laugh and a hard p***k”. You can’t argue with that logic. Meanwhile, the good-looking Hugh Dancy’s character is told the “procedure” is “like rubbing your tummy and your head at the same time”. I knew I was doing something wrong. Certainly, the elderly gentleman sitting near me during this flick was also giving this some consideration, as I could not be certain from his heavy breathing whether he was over stimulated or had simply fallen asleep.

Make sure you stay while the credits roll for a true history lesson on the evolution of the vibrator. It’s enough to make your eyes water. Suffice to say, should I ever drop dead suddenly, you might want to clear out the top drawer in my bedroom, lest my parents try to figure out what that thing that looks like a rabbit and glows in the dark is doing in my underwear draw.

 

At the risk of sounding like I’ve acquired an addiction to porn (I did wake up the other morning unable to hear, which I later realised was more to do with my big night out rather than indulging in too much porn) it is probably worth giving my two cents worth on Fifty Shades of Grey now that I’ve finally finished the third book. While a rollicking romp on one hand, (and some less kinder souls say poor writing on the other), what interests me most is not the main character Christian Grey, but his girlfriend, Anastasia Steele. While I can understand how Grey’s neglect as a child, and sexual education/abuse by an older woman while he was in his teens could lead to his need for carnal control, I fail to see how Steele could be such a submissive soul. It’s not even about the sex, though at times even she admits she’s not happy about certain acts. It’s more the fact she no longer sees her friends, changes her surname to Grey despite not wanting to, and is promoted beyond her ability and experience at work thanks to her wealthy partner. If this is the post-feminist woman with an education, then we have cause for concern.

On one or two occasions in the past, male friends have quizzed me on what, exactly, I’m looking for in a man. Apart from a pulse and the fact he can spell as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, to quote the feisty Maggie Gyllenhaal’s character in Hysteria: “I don’t want a husband, I want an equal.”

 In the meantime, I’m off to buy new batteries.