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Olivia is happy, healthy and in love

THE NORTHERN STAR, SATURDAY, MAY 21, 2011.

She is one of Australia’s most successful exports.

Olivia Newton-John has had a career that has spanned 48 years and includes 11 singles and 14 albums that have gone gold.

But, to us, she is still “our Livvy”, someone who we have watched survive and thrive after relationship break-ups and breast cancer.

Twice married, with one daughter, Chloe Rose Lattanzi, she currently lives with her new husband, John Easterling, in Jupiter Inlet Colony, in Florida.

The couple married alone in a private Incan spiritual ceremony in Cuzco, Peru, followed nine days later by a legal ceremony on the Jupiter Island beachfront.

But the singer’s heart also belongs to the Northern Rivers, where she has a luxury retreat, Gaia.

Discovered with the help of close friend Gregg Cave, the retreat reflects her connection with the environment; it’s a place to reconnect with the land and yourself – “barefoot meets Armani we like to call it”, she says.

Gaia is also important to Newton-John because it is about a holistic lifestyle, something she has embraced even more strongly since she underwent a partial mastectomy and breast reconstruction in 1992.

She has since been raising funds for the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre to be built in Melbourne and, in 2008, even walked the Great Wall of China for her cause.

She has also been a longtime activist for environmental and animal rights issues.

British-born but Australian raised, Newton-John is a four time Grammy Award winner who has sold more than 100 million albums worldwide.

But it is her interest in healthy living, and her new marriage, that now occupies much of her time.

In an exclusive interview, the singer talks to Tracey Hordern about her life now.

 

Q. How do you divide your time between countries and homes? Do you have a typical day?

A. I’m based in Florida, but in saying that, I come here to Australia at least three or four times a year, and I stay at Gaia. But, with all that travelling, no, I don’t have a typical day at all.

 

Q. How did you meet your husband John Easterling?

A. We’ve known each other for around 18 years. We met through friends and I actually gave him a dog years ago. When I had breast cancer he sent me some of his amazing herbs from his business, Amazon Herb Company. Then about four and a half years ago, I was doing a fundraising concert in Florida and I asked him and his girlfriend to come along. He did come, but he came with the dog I gave him – not a girlfriend! He then asked me to go to the Amazon with him. It was incredible. By day two we were in love! But there were years of a friendship to base that on. We’ve been married almost three years now.

 

Q. What inspires you?

A. The Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre that I am helping to establish. We have now been given $48 million from the Victorian Government, which is fantastic. Now we have $10 million more we need to raise. But I know that it’s possible! And, of course, Gaia always inspires me ... being part of people’s healing journeys.

It was never my plan, but today so much of my life is about health and giving back. The cookbook, eating well, the hospital, Gaia. And having John to be able to share it all with is special. So many people we know ring John and I up and ask us about what they can do (about health issues), what they can eat, what supplements they can take and what can we suggest that may be able to help. I know that I have had an interesting life. I have been very lucky, blessed – and it continues.

Music still inspires me; I’m doing a fundraising performance for the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre to be held at the MCG. It’s to open a Carlton versus Melbourne game. You know, I still love performing, though why I do it is different today from when I was younger.

 

Q. What is your fitness and health regime?

A. I love green vegetables, so that’s good! I also take supplements from my husband’s range. For the most part, I have muesli in the morning and I try to eat organic foods where possible but if you’re travelling that can be hard. I also try to do some exercise every day, even if it’s just a short walk. I know it’s good for my mind, my mood and, of course, my body.

At Gaia I do a walk early in the morning and I play tennis. If I’m at a hotel I go to the gym, even if it’s just for half an hour. I like to meditate, but to be honest the regular time I get to meditate is on planes. I also do a gratitude blessing whenever I eat. It’s a lovely ritual that brings you back to gratitude and the moment.

 

Q. How did the inspiration for your cookbook Livwise come about? And how does it connect with Gaia?

A. It came about as a fundraiser for the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre. A friend suggested the idea to me, and I am happy to say that 100 per cent of the profits from Livwise will support the centre. I never thought I would write a book, let alone a cookbook! But it focuses on healthy, guilt-free food. Many of the recipes are for vegetarian, healing food. Quite simply it’s the sort of food I love; with many of the recipes from the great chefs at Gaia. I also had some fantastic input from Kristine Matheson, a nutritionist and fellow cancer thriver. (Olivia likes to call herself a thriver, not a survivor.)

 

Q. How do you deal with the media attention and what is your philosophy about weathering the difficult times?

A. I feel like I grew up with the media attention, so it doesn’t really bother me. I would say that 99 per cent of the time, most people are lovely. As for my nature, I guess I’m  lucky, I’m naturally positive. But, yes, I have had some tough things that I have had to get through. But I’m lucky that the tough times came along when I was a bit older. When  you’re older, you know that you can get through things. You know that everything passes. But as much as I think I have a positive nature, it’s also a decision. I believe you  decide if you are going to be happy. The mind is the most powerful tool we have and, with our mind, we create our reality.

 

Q. What are your hopes and fears for the future?

A. World peace (laughs). No, really! Peace. There seems to be more wars, not less, as time goes by. I really hope that we all become more conscious and start loving each  other and protecting this planet of ours! We have to.

 

Recipes and images from Livwise by Olivia Newton-John, published by Murdoch Books RRP $39.95