Merry Christmas To You

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IT seems incongruous, but I am sitting down to pen my last blog for 2015. Equally unbelievable, I know, is that I’m still as single as when I sat down to write my first post this year. Yes, desperate and dateless as the New Year dawned, and staring down the barrel of yet another looming Valentine’s Day, in January I rejoined Bogandating.com (not its real name) and attracted the likes of blokes such as “Fairdinkumkiwi”, “Gazza”, and “DancingandRomance”. At this stage of the year/game I’d like to say (and kids, look away), based on my experience of dating sites in 2015, there is NO Santa Claus.
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Purely by coincidence in January, I also interviewed a woman who launched The Self Pleasure Revolution. Yes, 35 women from Australia, England, Chile, America and the Netherlands signed up and paid $US89 to participate in conscious masturbation every day for three weeks. While I admired their tenacity, I indulged in my own self pleasure revolution of going to the bottle-o and consuming vast quantities of wine…a semi-conscious decision which has lasted much longer than three weeks and cost far more than $US89, but each to their own.
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In February I explored my own backyard, covering stories in Brisbane where I stayed in the New Inchcolm Hotel & Suites dating back to the 1920s; sauntered down to Brisbane’s south side to explore its heart and soul; and west to Ipswich where I went to high school more than two decades ago. Apart from taking my first hot air balloon ride over the Lockyer Valley where I grew up, on Brisbane’s south side I discovered the Chung Tian Temple at Priestdale where the hum of Buddhist chants blended with the intoxicating sounds of silence. Here, I partook in an ancient tea ceremony where I learned that not only that tea is good for you, but apparently so is red wine. Just sayin.
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Just as the weather started to cool down in Brisbane in March, my travel schedule started to heat up. In one week I visited Singapore, Indonesia and Vietnam. In Indonesia, in my four-poster bed, replete with white chiffon curtains, I imagined I was an Indonesian High Priestess. I arrived at the Banyan Tree Bintan Island in my usual disheveled state, the effects of some aeroplane turbulence as we crossed the Equator, a reasonable swell on the ferry as we sailed across the South China Sea, several prescription drugs and red wine to fuel my travels, all beginning to wear off. But I remained chipper, for I was to sleep under this thatched Indonesian roof, or “alang alang”, in my seaside villa, skinny dip under the stars, and have several Asian women touch me inappropriately during a number of massages that wonderful week.
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I was home for a grand total of three days…enough time to wash and repack my undies… before I was on a plane to Rabaul in Papua New Guinea. Having exhausted every possibility or hope of ever finding the man of my dreams in Australia, I cast the net wider. While I was in PNG writing a series of travel stories, never let it be said that I waste any opportunity to find love. What I really adore about my travels is that no matter in which new country I find myself, I merely need to tell a local that I’m looking for love and they are immediately on the case. In this instance, the lovely Lucy, a 50-year-old PNG woman who works at the Kokopo Beach Bungalows Resort, instantly became my latest wing woman. Every day Lucy told me that I was beautiful and that I even looked like her daughter “she has a sharp nose like you”. She said when I returned to Rabaul I must come and stay with her in her village and she’ll find me a man. I am planning a return visit any day now.
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In April, my sister and me escaped to Fiji for a short Easter break where we indulged in snorkelling, swimming and sunshine while gracefully fanning away hot weather and men who were hot for us (the last element of that sentence is simply not true). Weeks later I was up in Tropical North Queensland at Thala, out on a nature tour with Head Gardener Brett Kelly. The highlight of this three-hour tour occurred Brett husked a coconut for me to drink. It did not take much for me to disappear into fantasyland, picturing the man of my dreams clad only in loin cloth, presenting me with a husked coconut. Sensing my sexual fantasy, the happily-married Brett promptly disappeared in the rainforest, never to be seen by me again.
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While there were a number of domestic trips in May (back to Port Douglas and the Sunshine Coast), the absolute highlight was travelling to Vienna to cover Eurovision. Despite being in the gayest city of Europe at that point in time, I viewed this trip as a chance to snag me some single European royalty (and a much-coveted EU passport). And I had my sights set on Liechtenstein’s Prince Wenzeslaus. Not only was he age appropriate at 41, his family is considered the richest monarchy in Europe. Vince the Prince, or Vincent, as he prefers to be called, has never married, but has been known to date the odd Victoria Secret supermodel. I felt that we were the perfect match but apparently he didn’t receive my emails alerting him to my European escape. I still hold out hope.
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In June, I took a brief break from overseas travel and relished the chance to catch up on some big writing projects. I interviewed the fabulous Feather from Byron Bay who was the subject of Natalie Grono’s award-winning photo: Feather and the Goddess Pool. Natalie had just received the People’s Choice award for this year’s National Photographic Portrait Prize. Feather, in her 70s, invited me to join her for some topless sunbaking and told me:
“I’ve got TMB – Too Many Birthdays. Men who are 80 and 81 look at me and say I’m too old for them. They can’t do anything and they are ratshit and I’m not really interested in being a cougar.”

Photo by Natalie Grono

Photo by Natalie Grono


Fabulous females continued to enter my life in July when I met Brisbane Trike Tour owner Chrissy McDonnell and her black three-wheeler The Bling Queen. On a crisp winter day in which we took a spin down to Canungra in the Gold Coast Hinterland, Chrissy told me how she quit her job at an insurance giant last December to follow her dream of running her own business. We spoke just last week and things are going gang busters.
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Up at Noosa in July, another new tourism business operator Kelly Carthy from Luxe Fitness Escapes paddled with me into the mangroves of the Noosa River where we partook in a beautiful floating yoga class to the sounds of the birds.
“I want women to feel strong and confident and I think there is lots of space to really empower women to feel strong in their bodies and focus on what they can do rather than how they look,” Kelly told me on this spectacular Sunshine Coast day.
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In August, I held hands with a man for the first time all year out at ReefWorld on the outer Great Barrier Reef. I was participating in a learner’s dive and, as fate would have it, it was just me and a handsome Spaniard for 30 glorious minutes. I was mesmerised by his brown hair which floated in the water like sea weed and spent the entire time dreaming of us having to share the same oxygen hose. But perhaps the most interesting character I met all year was out at the Mount Isa Rodeo in Queensland’s Outback. Here, Beaver, or Brettyln Neal as she is sometimes known, was about to notch up her 150th fight as part of Fred Brophy’s travelling boxing troupe.
“I’ve got a little furry Beaver mascot and sometimes Fred will get up and say ‘show us your Beaver’ and I’ll have it in my pants,” Beaver told me one dusty Outback afternoon. For the record, Beaver you are still my BFF.
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I took a journey to Australia’s spiritual heart of Uluru in September but anguished over how to capture its magic in words. Instead, I relinquished my role as a writer for one entire afternoon, and took a cycling tour of the red rock. It was my first visit to this ancient landmark and instead of clumsily grasping for the toolkit of adjectives and mixed metaphors upon which I usually rely, I emptied my head, opened my heart and clutched the handlebars. The words, well they came later. Shortly after, I found myself in Canada’s Nova Scotia covering a “sausage fest.” Yes, it took one classy sheila from Brisbane to point out to the Canadians that the term meant something entirely different back in the cosmopolitan Queensland capital.
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October found me in Sri Lanka and most notably Kandy where I went in search of my Kandy Man. My best chance presented itself at the Kandy Cultural Show where one of the acts included “10 male damsel drummers in harmony”. There was even one fine fella in the show who smiled at me and dropped his tambourine, such was my sex appeal, but our interaction ended there. I also had a Sri Lankan yoga teacher instruct me to rub “special herbal cream” on my face and boobs. Turns out his special cream was actually Vicks Vapor Rub. My boobs still sting at this memorable travel moment.
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I spent early November on the Gold Coast hunting and gathering a series of stories and allowed myself to indulge in childhood beach holiday memories. These messages in a bottle floated up every day…mum on Greenmount Beach tanning her back against a rock, dad driving our gold Kingswood around Kirra bend when he finished work on a Friday afternoon. Cream buns at Coolangatta. Shifting sands. And regular readers will recall it was only last month that I returned from the Solomon Islands, where, still no closer to snaring my solo man, I interviewed the locals about love. Panda, 37, told me Solomon Island men were good lovers because “they like the girls”.
“They love the white skin. There are lots of good boys around. If you come to me I can help you to find a good man. I think you will be the boss and he will do everything for you. He will think ‘I’ve got a white lady’ and he will treat you like a Queen,” Panda told me. Inexplicably, I returned home single.
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It’s now December, and this week I fly out for three weeks in Indonesia, where a girlfriend and me intend to flop and drop on each of the Gili Islands. There will be snorkelling, swimming, yoga, beer and plenty of daydreaming. A huge thank you to all of the tourism bodies, PRs and editors who supported my travels this year, the terrific characters I met along the way and to you, my loyal followers and readers. I wish you all love and light this Christmas and may we all find peace on earth in 2016. See you then. x
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Please Yourself

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AS you read this, in various destinations around the world, 35 women are into their fifth day of a 21-day private self pleasure challenge. That’s right, 35 women from Australia, England, Chile, America and the Netherlands have signed up and paid $US89 to participate in conscious masturbation every day for three weeks. How do I know this? Because last week being a relatively quiet start to the working year, I stumbled across a Facebook page called The Self Pleasure Revolution. And, as you can imagine, I was more than a little curious about what this all meant. For me, a night of self pleasure means a bottle of cheap red in bed watching Better Homes and Gardens and marvelling at the fact anyone could possibly take Tara and her creepy craft-making seriously. (I still have not recovered from the time she found an early model computer, you know those big boxy ones, and shoved a cat in it and called it a cat box). But it turns out on today’s blog I’m talking about pussies of a different kind. And how to discover your own pleasure.
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I tracked down the architect of The Self Pleasure Revolution facebook page and website, Elise Savaresse, and found a softly-spoken French (now, there’s a shock) woman, in her mid 30s, living in Perth. Elise, a life coach, has lived in Australia for 8 years, and launched the first Self Pleasure 21-day challenge in August last year.
“I’ve been exploring pleasure and self pleasure for a while and I’ve been interested in exploring how the mind works,” she says.
“A lot of studies show it takes 21 days to develop a new habit and to change neural pathways. I was driving one day and thought this concept might be something interesting to try.”
At this stage I should point out I, too, have lots of thoughts while driving – like whether there is enough chocolate and wine in the fridge waiting for me back at home – but the thought of launching a self pleasure revolution has never ever occurred to me.

Elise Savaresse

Elise Savaresse


Elise established her website and last August, 20 women from around the world signed up to the challenge which includes a welcome package; an opening ceremony; pleasure inspiration list; self pleasure guideline; daily emails to support and inspire; and techniques. Women are also encouraged to reclaim words such as “yoni, cunt and pussy”; and are supported by three “pleasure filled Goddesses” (including Elise) as well as a community of women who are reclaiming their bodies. Interestingly, women are also given a “live demo” to help them in their practice, which Elise says is conducted fully clothed and shows various positions and practices. For those who are a little bit more reticent to dive into the deep end, so to speak, you can download a free eBook from Elise’s site – Self Pleasuring For Women: The 7 Biggest Barriers.
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On Friday, 35 women started the second 21-day challenge – which women can join at any time – and which Elise hopes will grow to 1 million followers around the world.
“A lot of women still hold a lot of shame about touching themselves. Self pleasure is very masculine. This is all about listening to your body and it is a totally different approach,” Elise says.
“In my job as a life coach I work with empowering people through self love and it is really important to work on the physical aspects of that as well.
“From my own experience, I think the French are a bit more open to talking about their sexuality. I can feel there is a heaviness in Australia.”
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Elise, who has a partner, says whether women are in a relationship or not, the benefits of self pleasure are enormous including learning to understand your own body, being comfortable in your own skin, and being able to share what feels good for you. Even those without partners will benefit from the stress relief that regular self pleasure can bring through those happy hormones released upon orgasm.
“A lot of women feel that pleasuring themselves means they don’t love their partner and that their partner is supposed to be giving them pleasure,” she says.
“But it is psychological. We are always looking to understand ourselves, to be present and loved. When you pleasure yourself you are holding that space for yourself.”
I haven’t yet signed up for this 21-day challenge, but it’s certainly something to bear in mind for the future. After all, I’m up for anything that adds a bit of spice to life, and I’m pretty sure I can’t find that in a computer cat box.
Elise will be spreading the love around Australia with workshops in Byron Bay, Sydney and Melbourne in February and March. To find out more about the workshops, 21-day challenge or the concept overall, go to http://www.theselfpleasurerevolution.com
(All photos in this blog courtesy of Elise’s facebook page The Self Pleasure Revolution)
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