Speaking of sex and rolling on the river

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IF such a thing exists, it’s a “bad champagne day”, according to Kirsty Patten, who is steering a boat through a windy patch on the Noosa River. But while the weather is cool outside the vessel, the talk inside is steamy. You see Kirsty, co-owner of Noosa’s new luxury electric boat business Malu-os, is also a member of the Australian Sex Party. And so passionate is this woman about the Party formed by her sister Fiona Patten, Kirsty ran (unsuccessfully) for a Senate seat in the recent Federal Election. And so our conversation, like the boat, zig zags between her new business and sex. It’s as simple as that.
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“Our main platform is your body/your rights. It’s about marriage equality, euthanasia, abortion. We believe the church and religions should be taxed like any other organisation. We think marijuana should be legalised,” Kirsty says.
“When the Party first started, former Australian Democrat leader Don Chipp said ‘your biggest challenge is going to be getting noticed’. So Fiona called it the Australian Sex Party.
“I don’t get the whole concept that sex is bad but violence is acceptable. I think sex is a fantastic emotional thing that we should be enjoying because it makes us good.”
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Kirsty, the former principal at the ten-child school at Hayman Island, established Malu-os three months ago with her business and life partner Linda Boyes, a former special education teacher at Proserpine High School. There’s three luxury electric boats – 16ft duffys – from which to choose – the Lady Anne, Lady Isabella and Lady Mary – named after an 86 year old Noosa woman. The business name, Malu-os means seahorse in the Torres Strait, where both Kirsty and Linda worked. And it’s fabulously fitting for this eco-friendly tourism business.
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“We came down here on a holiday and just liked it. Noosa felt big enough for opportunities but still had a small country feel. I’ve always had this love of boats,” Kirsty says.
“We knew Noosa wanted clean and green and found these three boats in Sydney. And all of a sudden our lifestyle is so much nicer. I want people to enjoy the river at a non-frantic level.
“I think they are a great product for Noosa. They’ve got a little bit of class but they are also environmentally friendly. They have zero emissions while on the water and cost about $1 a day to charge the batteries. There’s no wash, no swell and they are quiet.”
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The number of strong, smart, sexy and spiritual women in Noosa these days is building into the mother of all swells. Along Hastings Street, you’ll find the sassy Miss Moneypenny’s – a spunky restaurant and bar with an impressive cocktail menu. Miss Moneypenny’s is the only place in Queensland to source authentic coconut cream – coco lopez – used in original pina coladas. And if you are looking for a grand dame here, stroll to the original French Quarter which has a new mantra, quite literally. Six months ago the Mantra group took over this accommodation and it’s now the Mantra French Quarter. You won’t find French fuss here, rather the colour and cheer of the coast captured in its one and two bedroom apartments which are punctuated by a central pool.
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Want to meet another superb Sunny Coast sheila? Wade over to Noosa Stand Up Paddle and meet Donalee Halkett who started this empowering enterprise six years ago.
“This is a great way to get out on the water and get back to nature. You are getting fresh air and sunshine and it’s very meditative,” Donalee says.
“It’s not like going to the gym and thinking you have to work up a sweat. The thing that I’ve loved about it is that everybody can do it. You see some people quite fearful and they overcome that.”
Such a great teacher is Donalee that she not only got The Global Goddess to her feet but to the point of being able to do a one-legged yoga pose on the board, while floating. (Regular readers will remember I have no physical balance and once smashed two vertebrae in my back simply from tripping over my own feet, so this was quite an achievement).
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Donalee also works with a local psychologist and uses her Stand Up Paddle trips to assist others relieve anxiety and deal with issues such as eating disorders.
“With these sorts of issues there is a lot of fear involved. Being in nature is quite healing but it also builds confidence. A lot of women are quite fearful and don’t have any self-esteem,” Donalee says.
“This goes much deeper than the paddle itself. It is very spiritual.”
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But unfortunately, not everyone likes the idea of women paddlers.
“I had one experience out in the surf one day and some bloke was trying to shake me off my board,” Donalee says.
“I knew the board I was on was too small for him, so I offered him a go and it was like a bucking horse, he just kept falling off.
“I thought that was pretty funny.”
Donalee, who has always worked in the health sector, is about to turn 50 (stand up paddle boarding is clearly good for you), and is currently penning a book 50 Fabulous Things for women in their 50s.
“Every day, every minute, we have a choice. We can choose the negative or the positive. Life can be a blessing or a curse,” she says.
“I’m celebrating life.”

The Global Goddess travelled as a guest of Tourism Noosa and stayed at Mantra French Quarter. http://www.visitnoosa.com.au and http://www.mantrafrenchquarter.com.au. Visit Malu-os at http://www.malu-os.com.au and Noosa Stand Up Paddle at http://www.noosastanduppaddle.com.au
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The Goddess’ Briefs: Travel & Lifestyle tips for smart, strong, sexy and spiritual women (and the great men who love us!)

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LET’S DO THE TIME WARP
A confession: The Global Goddess has never seen The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Yes, when everyone else in dance clubs is taking a jump to the left, and then a step to the right, I have absolutely no idea what is going on. So, I am most excited to discover the Rocky Horror Show musical will open at Brisbane’s QPAC Lyric Theatre on January 10 as part of a national tour. And the Accor hotel brand – the official accommodation partner for the 40th anniversary party production of the show – is offering Stay and See packages which include overnight accommodation, one A reserve ticket to the show and ticket booking fee. It’s enough to make you put your hands on your hips, and bring your knees in tight. http://www.showbiz.com.au
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HOTEL MAKES A POINT WITH FREE WI-FI
One of the hottest topics among travelling circles at the moment is the subject of free Wi-Fi. Essentially, none of us can understand why hotels don’t offer it, or at least something that resembles affordable. The Global Goddess is still stunned she can get free Wi-Fi in a poor fishing village along the Mekong Delta, but not in some Australian cities. So, it’s refreshing to see The Point Brisbane offering complimentary, high-speed Wi-Fi access with unlimited downloads to all guests. This Kangaroo Point hotel has just invested $100,000 in an extensive IT upgrade to enhance performance and online security. That, in The Goddess’ books, is reason enough to stay in one of the 201 rooms or suites, hold a meeting or event, and dine at its restaurant Lamberts. http://www.bestmanagement.com.au
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I’D LIKE OMAN
Two things the Global Goddess loves: waterslides and the Middle East. Combine the two and you’re looking at Oman’s first water park due to open in 2016 at a cost of $110 million. Situated 72km north of Muscat, the water park will stretch over 25,000 square metres and will be the first of its kind in the Sultanate. Australia’s Sanderson Group, who developed Warner Bros Movie World on the Gold Coast, is behind this development. The Global Goddess has never been to Oman, but has been to nearby countries such as Jordan, which she enjoyed immensely. But don’t wait until 2016 to get to Oman, think about a trip there now for its long, white sandy beaches, dramatic mountain peaks, vivid green oasis and mystical desert camps. http://www.tourismoman.com.au
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SPA RESORT UNDERGOES A DETOX
A few years ago, The Global Goddess happily attended Absolute Sanctuary, a detox and yoga resort in Thailand’s Koh Samui. I say happily, but it was a much-needed detox for this sometimes wild child. That’s not to say I did not spend the week before with my friends, “carb loading” for what lay ahead, and I may or may not have snuck down to the beach the night before with a mate to drink as many Mai Tais as possible. I needn’t have worried. The food was plentiful and tasty, the daily spa treatments a real treat and the rooms and pool divine. The resort has just finished a six-month facelift, boasting a Moroccan theme, newly painted rooms, larger televisions and a dedicated new guest lounge. To celebrate its unveiling, the resort is launching a special end-of-year rooms promotion with 30 percent discount on its superior rooms during selected dates in November and December. http://www.absolutesanctuary.com
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DESIGN FOR LIVING
No, The Global Goddess hasn’t gone all domestic goddess on you – Design for Living is the name of the play she saw last week. This production, based on Noel Coward’s 1930s production, follows the lives of three central characters and their intertwining love lives. In Act One, you’ll find interior decorator Gilda living with painter Otto in a shabby Paris studio, but she’s spent the night with Leo. In Act Two, Gilda is now living with Leo in London and by Act Three she’s moved on to Ernest (a fourth character) in New York. It sounds complicated (what’s not when it comes to love?) but it’s a delightful and often hilarious look on life. And, it’s the final production for the Queensland Theatre Company for this year. So treat yourself to a night out. http://www.queenslandtheatre.com.au
QTC Design For Living 30, credit Rob Maccoll
WIN THE CHANCE TO LIVE A LIFE OF SUNDAYS!
The Global Goddess first met Kayleen Allen 13 years ago when they both worked together at Tourism Queensland in the best jobs in the world…promoting Australia’s leading tourism destination. Now, Kayleen has taken her passion for professional and personal development and launched a new business called Life of Sundays. Using the teachings of self-development guru Louise Hay, Kayleen offers a range of half, full-day and two-day programs and retreats where you will learn to feel valued and appreciated for you are, loved, nurtured and safe to explore your story, past beliefs and to unlock your true potential. Her next “Heal Your Life, Achieve Your Dreams” workshop will be held in Brisbane on December 7 and 8.
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One lucky Global Goddess follower has a chance to win a spot at this two-day workshop, valued at $850. Simply go to http://www.theglobalgoddess.com and, make sure you’re a follower by clicking on the FOLLOW button in the bottom right hand corner. Go to this post, and in the comments section, simply tell me what your Life of Sundays would look like. The competition closes at 5pm on Wednesday, November 13. The winner will be announced in The Goddess’ Briefs on Friday, November 15. For more information or to book the workshop, contact kayleeen@lifeofsundays.com.au
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Good Grief

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I STILL look for her everywhere. And in the most incongruent of places. When I’m travelling overseas, but mostly in the local shopping centre, where she’d most likely be. Except she isn’t. One year ago I lost my counsellor, confidante and dear friend, Sue Cameron. She died unexpectedly, at the age of 76, passing away quietly from pneumonia. It was a month before I discovered she had died. And on that grey, old Saturday I howled. Fat, serious tears rolling down my face, my body shacking with the grief and injustice of it all. And then I wrote and I wrote, vowing not to let her death undo me. She’d be so cranky at that. And so I haven’t.
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I think of her often. On the good days and the bad. On rare grim days I repeat the mantra she told me so often: “Turn it on it’s head, darl.” And I glance at a photo of her I keep above my keyboard in which she wears the same Mona Lisa smile she used to give me when I sought her advice on life’s big issues. It’s a no-nonsense kind of look, with an unwritten caption which I imagine reads: “You know it’s all going to work out, don’t you?” The photo arrived by surprise in the mail, sent to me by her partner Keith, 84. He sent it with a note which read: “Sue gave me the photo and I know she liked you a lot, so here is the original. May God bless you and thank you for your regard for my wonderful Suzie”. I view him from a distance from time-to-time in the local shopping centre. He looks so much older now. His tall frame a bit more hunched. No more handsome hat tilt when he passes by. But he’s surviving. Like the rest of us.
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Journalist and author Susan Wyndham has just published a book My Mother, My Father: On Losing a Parent. Wyndham, whose mother died two years ago, has cobbled together an anthology of stories by 14 Australian authors who examine the concept of surviving the deaths of our parents. Some of the nation’s best penmen and women have contributed to this tome, including Thomas Keneally, Helen Garner and David Marr. In her review of the book in the Weekend Australian newspaper, Rosemary Neill refers to our parents as “those who have known us the longest”. I have never lost a parent, but have many friends who have. For me, the passing of Sue Cameron was the closest to this kind of grief I have endured. While not knowing me the longest – although we had been together through 12 turbulent and terrific years of counselling – she was the person who knew me best. And so it was a lonely landscape I faced the day she died. Like losing your anchor in the middle of the ocean and searching desperately for a paddle to get you back to shore.
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Apart from the grief which never really leaves – you learn to grow around it – I’ve been fascinated at how my rational mind can know someone has died, but my emotional mind still looks for her. In Saturday’s Courier-Mail there’s a story about a new coffee shop concept called The Death Café where people gather to talk about the concept of death. This pop up concept is not about grief counselling, but more so that people can freely discuss one of life’s most taboo subjects. Attendees can be anyone from those simply curious about what happens after life, to those who have experienced death in their circle or who are facing a terminal illness. It’s run by grief educator Beth O’Brien and funeral director Neil Davis. “Death Café is…an unusual event trying to change how uncomfortable society is about death and replacing it with relaxes discussion and cake,” O’Brien says.

Photo courtesy of the Courier-Mail

Photo courtesy of the Courier-Mail


In her review of My Mother, My Father, Neil writes: “For many people, the death of a parent is a reckoning: a catalyst for evaluating a life lived well, or a little outrageously.” These days, I choose to live my life well. Sure, I still have my outrageous moments, chase bad boys, drink champagne with my friends, but I try to temper these with striving to be a better version of me. In the past year I have taken up yoga in the mornings, gone to several health retreats and really participated – bringing home the wisdom learnt and incorporating it into my life. I attend weekly meditation classes, swim or walk in the afternoons. I eat better, drink less. Recently, on my birthday, a friend sent me an email. It read: “I’ve really noticed a change in you over the last couple of months. You seem happier, calmer. It’s a subtle change, but I’m not imaging it. The ‘real’ you is breaking out for all the world to see and love.”
Butterflies designed by artist Chris Chun

Butterflies designed by artist Chris Chun http://www.chrischun.com


Wherever she’s reading this from, I just know Sue Cameron would be chuffed.

To book for the Death Café email: director@australiancelebrations.com.au
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Finding Courage and Compassion on the Coast

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IT’S a Wizard of Oz kind of weekend, where I discover courage and compassion in the most unlikely of characters…the Gold Coast. Beneath the naughty neon lights, the throaty hum of the ocean and the throbbing drum of nightclubs for which Surfers Paradise is famous, lays a rip curl of creativity which is building into the mother of all swells.
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My weekend starts with a yoga session in front of Kurrawa Beach, in the park named after swimwear supremo Paula Stafford, whose two-piece bathing costumes put bikinis and the Gold Coast on the global catwalk. I’m in a public park, with my legs in the air, spread wide apart, simultaneously contemplating my form and hoping the swirling seagulls don’t poo on me. It’s a day of downward dogs and inward reflection.
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Our yoga teacher for the morning is Laura Humphreys from Threedom Wellness, who gently urges us to accept the notion that yoga is a balance between courage and compassion. And you can forget about bringing your ego to class.
“Backbends are about the future. Forward bends are about looking inwards. We often don’t like to look inwards, it scares most of us,” she says. Interestingly, Laura has to force my body into a forward bend, which becomes easier with each deep yoga breath. Some days, you’ve just gotta breathe.
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There’s just enough time for a short break at Broadbeach’s eclectic Elm for a dirty chai – a coffee and chai – before the next wave deposits us at Burleigh and Roar Food. Business Partners Darren Jones and Suki Kasinathan are passionate about sustainable eating, and in two hours will teach you how to prepare 10 raw food recipes. It’s here I learn that cauliflower is “sensitive” – the kind of vege you might avoid if you were dating it, but a perfect substitute for couscous. Want a new twist on pasta? Why not try zucchini spirals? Or a raw food apple pie – cheeky crusts need not apply.
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“Each of your vegetables has a personality. When you are eating raw you really connect to the food. Each individual apple will have a different sweetness,” Suki says.
“For me it is a journey and I don’t know where it is going to end but it feels really good.”
The plates you eat on during this class are made from a bi-product of sugar cane, as are the forks and even the recipes are printed on ethical paper made from wheat and soy rice.
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The current sweeps me to Budd’s Beach and onto a kayaking journey with Steve Vah from Australian Kayaking Adventures where we cut through the water with our paddles and through the bullshit of life with talk of love and passion. Steve is married to a Colombian and he knows a thing of two about fiery females with big hearts. Our journey along the Gold Coast canal takes us past Bar Helm Bistro @Surfers, where later that night I’ll indulge in Helm’s Smoking Texas Mary cocktail take on a Bloody Mary and reluctantly concede that my friends made a wise choice in the Parmesan Crusted Snapper Fillet with lemon butter.
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I’m on the Gold Coast for Australia’s premier blogging training event – ProBlogger – and it’s here that courage and compassion raise their handsome heads again. In his opening address, ProBlogger architect Darren Rows proffers an insight into facing your fears.
“Fear is a signal that something important is about to happen. It’s a good thing. Ask yourself – what’s the worst thing that can happen, how would you recover if it happened, and what’s the best thing that could happen? The reality is somewhere in between,” he says.
“Even wobbly courage is courage. Figure out what the fear actually is. Don’t play the comparison game, comparisons are not fair. People show the best of what they do, where you know everything about yourself, even the bad stuff.
“Compare yourself to yourself. You are unique. Use that to your competitive advantage. No one has your story.”
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Guest speaker Trey Ratclif, a photographer who is blind in one eye, is 42 and only picked up a camera 7 years ago. His self-taught imagery is legendry around the world. The kind of excellent work that attracts jealous detractors.
“It is arguably better to have a weird brain than a normal brain. People on the edge of the bell curve do interesting things with their lives. Let the rocks people throw at you just fall,” he says.
“There’s a few people out there who are evil and feed a white core of hate inside of me. I fight back with awesome.
“A blog is probably the greatest self-discovery tool of our age. You find out new things and truths within yourself. When you are telling your stories you are living in the now.”
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Actor Samuel Johnson, who is riding around Australia on a unicycle to raise money for breast cancer research in honour of his sister Connie who is battling the disease, makes a surprise guest appearance at the conference. You need courage and compassion to make an epic journey around a monster-sized country like ours. And a heart of gold. And that’s where the crux of this story on courage and compassion lies for me. As a blogger, I think you must write with heart, humour or humility. Like you should live your life. And, if you’re really lucky, you might find all three.
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The Global Goddess explored The Gold Coast as a guest of Tourism and Events Queensland. For more information on a Gold Coast holiday go to http://www.queenslandholidays.com.au.

For more information on how to become an awesome blogger, or next year’s ProBlogger event, go to http://www.problogger.net or http://www.twitter.com/problogger

To donate to Samuel Johnson’s ride for breast cancer, please go to http://www.loveyoursister.org
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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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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).

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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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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 www.billabongretreat.com.au or better still, book yourself in for an enlightening adventure.

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