Nestled amid the undulating lush green landscape, about an hour and half inland from the Pacific Highway that ribbons Australia's east coast, is a little jewel-sized piece of heaven. Believe me? Well it's true because I'm eye-balling it from my bedroom window while I'm sitting at my desk under my ceiling fan which is trying to simulate an AC and failing rather well at it. Though the 28C/82F outside is not going to kill me, so I can get over myself.
I've been volunteering my business services here at Misty Mountain Health Retreat for the past month and I thought I'd let you know what a typical day looks like.
But first I must tell you about my neighbours
As the sun pinks the morning sky I'm welcomed by the resident family of adorably cute wallabies forging for their breakfast. Mouth full and chewing they stand to see who it is disturbing them. When I say 'welcomed' I actually mean, completely ignored. Yet they have an air of 'you can bask in my presence if you must' about them. This seems to amuse the Kookaburras who are vying for the perch on top of the telephone pole directly outside my window as they laugh about it all day. Which is completely lost on the flock of teenage-girl Rainbow-Coloured Lorikeets, as they are all about their own business and have been making a racket as if in a public mall with all of their commotion. But my old faithful favourite is the mellow and musical warbling call (quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle ) of the magpies which brings to mind childhood camping holidays and therefore fond memories. I could get used to living in a place such as this.
So, I seem to be up the Nulla Nulla Creek, without a paddle! No, actually without mobile reception - yet grateful for my internet connection I do have.
Mike and Barbara O'Neill brought this property, once belonging to an aboriginal boarding school, 3 years ago and shifted their more remote retreat into this bigger complex a year later after a major overhaul. Adding to their already bustling health program will be a new school curriculum. As of the beginning of 2015 Misty will be offering a year-long diploma in Residential Health Education and Management which will be recognised by the Australian government. It sounds awfully exciting.
Barbara, the health director, is the major 'draw card' to its many guests and staff, educating us all about "Your Body Can Heal Itself". Teamed up with her husband Mike as Misty's business manager, they make for a balanced self-supporting ministry/business that I've come to admire greatly.
So what does my day look like?
My first month at Misty has flown buy. Made possible by the people I'm working with. It's always about the people, they make a volunteer stint most enjoyable, I fall in love with them so easily and this small team is no exception. While I make friends with everyone I've, in particular, made close friends with Misty's chef, Leoni and her hubby Wayne. I don't even mind Wayne's 'ribbing' at my Kiwi accent - much.
My office is also my bedroom - it's a convenience really, easily situated by the main office in case I'm needed for an emergency design job and only a 'Hey Tania, can you come here?!' call away. And when I say convenient what I mean to say is I can fill my table with all my illustration paper and not have to clean it up when work is over.
My routine has an early start, which lately has been anything from 3:30-4:30am. I'm a natural early riser and it's my best time of the day. I spend time with God after which I may go for a wander or get some work started, depending on my current client deadlines, after which I head up the hill to breakfast which works up the appetite, after, off course, I start breathing again, apparently it gets easier, and I have noticed it doesn't kill me as much now as it did when I first arrived!
Meal times are our communal social stimulation time, very much looked forward to and usually filled with raucous laughter as we share stories and adventures with one another, I admit to being the instigator of many a story that has left the table in stiches. Both breakfast and lunch take about an hour each. We eat twice a day, 7:30am and again at 1:30pm. The food is amazing! Plant based vegetarian fare, and with it being so healthy I've found I'm not at all hungry or thinking of food again till the next morning! For those who think this is weird it's in fact wonderful on your digestion and also your purse ;).
Whereas Leoni is the chief cook, Wayne and I are the chief bottle washers - of late, our volunteer numbers have decreased so it's down to us.
My work hours for Misty start around 8:45-9am, and I work though till about 12:45-1pm. I've a list of design requests I'm working through with Mike and he's made it easy to just knuckle down and get them done. Thus far the main focus has been on the design of a DVD cover set for Barbara's health lectures; a media kit for her speaking engagements; advertising for upcoming programs as well as writing an editorial for the newspaper. I was also invited to sit in on a weeklong series of health lectures that Barbara shares with their retreat guests. They encourage all their staff to take them in when they're new here, they're well worth doing so!
After lunch I get on with my own personal client work, or writing and other general business upkeep for Drawer Full of Giants till bed time about 9pm, so my days just seem to blend into one another. I work for Misty 5 days a week, Saturday's I put my work away and have the day off and I'll work on my personal projects Sunday's. However I've started implementing every 2nd weekend as a time of sightseeing and arrange a couchsurf for a few days a few hours in either direction.
Spiritually - the staff get together mid week for worship and again on Friday night, Misty has its own church here on site and if it's an off week (meaning, no guests one week out of four) we all convoy into the surrounding towns to attend church.
Everyone has made me to feel very welcomed and I've settled in as if I've been here a good long while, and not the month it has been.
Update: I served Mist Mountain for two months before moving on and doing other things, I really enjoyed my time and the offer to work as a self supporting volunteer seems to work well for me. I have them planned for my future.