Irene Newton-John (née Born)
My beautiful mother Irene Newton-John was strong, fierce and independent – the perfect female role model, with a deep sense of social justice. Mum taught me about eating healthily and the importance of treading lightly on our planet.
She was an activist before it was even “a thing”, and was constantly campaigning for the environment in one way or another. I guess I have inherited that gene, as I have always been instinctively passionate about our planet, nature and animals. Mum always told me, “If you can help someone, do it.”
She was, and remains, the inspiration behind almost everything I do. It was with her teachings in mind that [in 2005] my close friend Gregg Cave and I created Gaia Retreat & Spa [in New South Wales’ Byron Bay hinterland], and then – together with our team – developed our new natural and organic skincare range, Retreatment Botanics.
My late sister Rona was an inspiration in her own right. Later in her life I began to recognise that she too had a lot of Mum’s values deep inside her. We used to go for long walks and spend a lot of time really getting to know each other.
As a young girl, Rona was a successful model in London, working with people like Helmut Newton. I used to look up to Rona because she was so funny, beautiful and elegant. Many of my fond memories of living in London include going over to Rona’s to learn what the counterculture was doing, exposing me to different experiences.
Mum and Rona inspired me to take care of my skin, and taught me make-up tips and the importance of eating healthily and exercising.
In 1972, Rona and I recorded a song together – Just Us Two. That was such a fun time. I loved singing with my sister – she always inspired me to be the best performer I could be. Rona had style and impeccable taste and taught me about [fashion] and decorating houses and mostly about not being afraid to be yourself. She was my biggest supporter.
Author Louise Hay changed my life and opened my mind to new ways of thinking about the connection of the mind, body and spirit and the importance of self-care and self-love – and how our illnesses are emotionally connected to our bodies.
Her message rang bells in my mind as soon as I picked up her book, You Can Heal Your Life. It became my bible and I shared her gift with many people. Louise believed that if you can change your thinking, you’re going to improve the quality of your life, [as] your mind has the power to heal – something I strongly believe in.
Louise and I spoke about the importance of creating loving, healing rituals around things we do every day that might otherwise seem a chore. I’ve applied some of these to my personal rituals, such as removing my make-up at night with positive healing affirmations.
I feel so blessed that I had a deep connection with Louise. In honour of her, I planted a tree on the highest point of Gaia Retreat & Spa – in loving memory of her heart and vision.
Olivia is the co-founder of Gaia Retreat & Spa and Retreatment Botanics, retreatmentbotanics.com.
Photography courtesy of Olivia Newton-John.
This story originally appeared in the November issue of marie claire.