Having just turned 60, author and motivator Barbara Pease has a totally ageless approach to life and readily shrugs off any stereotype of what being 60 should look like.
As the CEO of the highly successful Pease International, which she runs with her internationally renowned body language expert husband Allan, she is one of Australia’s most productive female authors. Barbara has co-written 14 top 10 bestsellers, 11 of which reached number one and were translated into 57 languages. She has sold more than 30 million books, written four international stage plays and had a number one box office movie based on one of her books Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps – all while presenting seminars in 60 countries. She is also patron of No More Fake Smiles, a Sunshine Coast charity supporting victims of child sexual abuse.
Wearing sneakers and her long blonde hair flowing loosely, Barbara bounds up the tree-shaded path of their 52-acre Buderim mountain-top compound to meet me. She shows no signs of jetlag despite having returned from Europe just the day before.
So, what is her secret to staying young?
“The mind is the most powerful thing,” she insists. “If you think you’re ageing, your mind will gladly do that for you. I don’t think like that and I don’t put limitations on myself, because I think I can do everything that everyone else can do.”
When she hears people comment: “I can’t do that – I’m 60”, she responds clearly.
“Well, I’m like, I’m 60 and I can do that. I can get up those stairs. I can do anything that anyone else can. I don’t even have a visualisation of me being 60. I still feel as though I’m in my twenties. I think that’s the secret, think like you’re in your twenties.” Good health and wellbeing also help. Barbara doesn’t wear make-up unless she’s going somewhere, always uses a natural moisturiser, drinks lots of water and eats primarily a plant-based diet – having fish and chicken only occasionally, and very occasionally a glass of wine.
In fact, Barbara believes ageing is all in the mind. “Absolutely, I don’t feel 60. I don’t act it. I don’t dress like it. When I was in Italy, a lady was trying to help me buy a dress. She brought a dress out and held it up to me and said, ‘What do you think about that?’ I said, ‘I’m not that old. I wouldn’t wear a dress like that’. Allan burst out laughing. He just looked at me and said, ‘You’re 60’.”
When it comes to her wardrobe, Barbara loves colour, dresses – shorter rather than longer – scarves and wedges.
This mother of six (three biological children and three stepchildren) and grandmother of nine, has never been one to bow to convention.
At 43, Barbara gave birth to her son Brandon through IVF, and a few years later at 46, did the same with daughter, Bella. When she was pregnant with Brandon, her two stepdaughters were also pregnant at the same time. She recalls going to a baby shower with one of her stepdaughters, Jaz. A fellow guest commented that it was lovely to see two friends celebrating their pregnancies together.
“I said, ‘This is my daughter and she’s carrying my grandson’, and Jaz said, ‘This is my mum and she’s carrying my brother’,” Barbara recalls. “We’re a very unusual family.
“I’m a mum and a grandma at the same time in terms of having children the same age. So I’m a different grandparent, because when the grandkids come over here, they’ve got kids the same age to play with.”
With young children and an international business to run, you would think the Peases would be exhausted. But Barbara and Allan have few plans to slow down.
“Allan’s 71. Every 10 years we go to Portofino and take a photo from the same place. When we turn 70 and 80, because there’s 11 years difference, we’ll take the same shot and walk up the same path to the church. So we’ve already set that goal,” she tells salt.
She also has no plans to retire anytime soon – despite her own mother’s regular encouragement. “With my mum’s generation, that’s what you looked forward to. But I actually love what I do and that’s the difference. That’s what we teach men and women all over the world – when you actually love what you do, what do you retire to? You only retire from something you’re not enjoying.
“I just can’t imagine retiring. Everyone needs to do what they want to do. Retiring for me? No, I’m going out in a body bag. I’m not retiring. I am doing what I love to do. Even if I wasn’t travelling the world, and doing seminars, and affecting people’s lives, I’d find something to do. I’ve got so much life, goals and things to achieve yet.”
Work has never been something this colourful and fabulous woman has shied away from.
At 12, she held three jobs while still a star pupil at school. In her early twenties, she was approached by a regional newspaper and before long was managing the feature section selling more than $1 million worth of advertising in her first year. She later opened her own modelling agency and ran courses to teach people about deportment and grooming to help them find jobs.
“My parents didn’t have any money,” she confides. “So I realised at a very young age, if I wanted anything, I had to buy it myself. I bought my own car. Bought my own clothes. I had the ability to make money.
“When I got my pay cheque I would buy fresh bread and cheese, that we wouldn’t normally buy. I’d save half [the wage] and spend the rest on my family or myself. I don’t know how I knew, but I had to find mentors. Every person who came into my life whether it was a teacher or whoever, they would mentor me.”
Now, Barbara is a mentor to many. Her life and heart full (not to mention her calendar!), she inspires many with her success across many avenues.
She starts each day at 4.30am. “Because we run an international business, I get on to my computer and find I get more work done in that very short period of time before the kids and Allan get up.”
Three mornings a week, she drives her daughter to basketball practice at 6am, and goes for a walk while she’s waiting. Back home she prepares breakfast for the family and then goes into the home office to work. She fasts until lunch time. “That’s how your body heals – by not eating. If you eat just a little, your body is working hard digesting that. I have a really good sleep, get up in the morning, have herbal tea and water and then I’m starving for lunch. Fasting is really good for your body.”
Come 2pm, she and Allan go to their “happy place’’, the on-site gym, to walk and talk in the pool. “Half an hour walking in the pool burns up more energy than an hour’s walk,” she says. “And Sunday morning is our time, too. We walk to the village and sit and have a chai. Nobody else is around. I look forward to that.”
Bedtime is around 9.30pm when they might watch something on TV. “We watch educational things and people who are out there, whom we admire. We are always educating ourselves on life. Everyone should be doing that, no matter what age they are.”
The couple particularly enjoy watching the politically incorrect American comedian, political commentator, and television show host Bill Maher. “He talks about things most people won’t – with no apology.”
In fact, Bill Maher would be top on her list of guests at an imaginary dinner party along with Elon Musk. “I find both of them fascinating. They both speak their mind and are criticised by the world for having a different point of view. I admire their conviction. We need people who think differently.”
“Music-wise, I’d have to have Barbra Streisand. If you think about her life and all the challenges that she had. People told her she wasn’t good enough. They wanted her to have plastic surgery. She kept true to herself. So I’d definitely love to sit down and talk to her. I find her amazing.”
Other invitees would include Michelle Obama, Lucille Ball and Meryl Streep – “all strong women who’ve lived life their way”, and Christopher Hitchens, controversial author of God is not Great.
And of course, husband Allan. “He’s cheeky, he would entertain, and he loves people who think outside the box too.”
Working, living and playing together 24/7 as the pair do, Barbara says she lives by three words: respect, love and passion. “Don’t let age stop you from pursuing your passions and pushing your boundaries. If not now, then when? You are more equipped at a mature age than ever before. Now is the time to run life on your terms. And when writing the story of your life, make sure you’re the one holding the pen!”