I first went to the Golden Door Health Retreat in the Gold Coast hinterland in June 2012, and volunteered for two weeks.  It was part of a program they offer, where you volunteer for five and get your sixth week free, as a guest.  Quite an experience; hard work physically (running up hills in the dark and the wet at 5.30am to wake guests in their chalets for Thai Chi, clearing tables, wiping tables, setting tables, hoovering, polishing cutlery, photocopying slightly wonky handout notes – archaic I know) but simultaneously rewarding, as I got to meet fascinating guests who came to the retreat for all manner of reasons, and sat in on workshops and activities.

The Golden Door’s programme has been running for 15 or so years and appeals to many, who return year on year.  I wondered why?  Are people really so lacking in self control that they need to pay to be retaught the same mantra annually?  Probably yes.  Our busy lives get in the way of our great intentions.  It’s an annual ground hog day.

I sat in on some of the classes.  I learnt some interesting theories about thoughts and relationships and also watched some quite unusual behaviour.  Some of the language was cringeworthy to a conservative Brit like me.  At times some of the theory felt like a cop out – especially the notion of IGNORE (yes in capitals on the white board) and ‘Let it Go’ which surely cannot always adequately address a situation?  I loved seeing the change in guests – they’d arrive off a plane wearing their shoulders hunched up around their ears, needing answers to a sea of questions and behaving with great suspicion.  By day three they were relaxed, open, ‘sharing’.  Come hometime, they were friends with smiles all round.

So I returned to do my third week’s volunteering in May 2013.  As I cleared the breakfast dishes on my first day I was told ‘a rumour’ by the kitchen staff, that the volunteer program was to be discontinued.  In a month’s time.  End of an era.  For days I was disappointed.  Felt let down.  But today I hear it’s just the start of a new adventure – I can continue my volunteering at their sister property Elysia in the Hunter Valley.  Now, isn’t Pokolbin wine growing territory?!?  Hurray.

I greatly enjoyed my week thanks to the great guests and a bit of determination and development.  It made me dig out the article I wrote about it last year, to see if it still rang true.  I’m pleased to report that the essence of my writing still resonated.

To reassure you, I’m none of these women in the below picture.