Women of Spirit – Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Lives

“I sat still for a moment and looked up at the sky. It was the bluest sky I had ever seen, no cloud in sight. The birds chirped happily in the trees, it was like I was hearing them for the first time. My heart began to settle into a rhythm like it had found it’s orchestra. I noticed how energised I felt, sat there on the earth, barefoot. I took a big breath, the sweet-smelling air filled my lungs. I felt renewed.”

– Sam Geddes, ‘The Unlikely Warrior’, taken from Women of Spirit by Susie Mackie

Rose Petals in Teacup

Every so often, I make a change from my usual posts here, and touch lightly on my healing journey. A few weeks ago I wrote about healing through creativity, and in that post I mentioned that I am still recovering from the upside down turn my life took two years ago. And I remember in the depths of the darkest times, when I felt so alone, and I searched and searched for help that just wasn’t there, that one day I would recover, and I would help others in my situation, somehow. One day I will.

When you’re in the situation, it often feels, to me at least, that I am the only one. I have so much joy in my life, and I’m in a very lucky position, but the downside is that it can be incredibly lonely.

Women of Spirit

A few months ago, I received a press release telling me about an upcoming book launch – and this one really jumped out at me!

Women of Spirit is an anthology of women’s diverse journeys, which captures their inspirational stories in the face of adversity. The women featured in  Women of Spirit  have all dug deep and found ways to rise up and away from times of despair. In the book readers will see how women beat illness, disempowerment, racism, bereavement and lack of acceptance.

Susie Mackie, the author of Women of Spirit, says,

‘Most women have enormous strength, even though they might not know it, and I wanted to interview unsung heroines whose stories are inspiring and will resonate for others. We just have to listen because these women are all around us.’

Women of Spirit Chapter 1

I’ve just read the first few chapters – and they really hit home emotionally! The stories I have read so far are heartbreaking, but most importantly, incredibly inspiring.

Women of Spirit is not only a book – it is a movement, which is all about enabling women to find their true worth.

I really wanted to find out more, so I contacted Susie to ask if she would mind being interviewed for the readers of my blog, and she happily agreed.

Firstly, what inspired you to write ‘Women of Spirit?’

I first had the idea in 2005, when I handed in my second project for my photography degree – a documentary project based on a phrase we had been given: “do not pass me by”. When I put forward my idea of “Women of Spirit” – ‘ordinary’ women, unknown, uncelebrated, and just like you and me, my tutor liked the idea but wondered where I might find these women. Well, all I had to do was listen, for they were – and still are – all around me.

I handed in my project just before one of the most traumatic events of my life, the discovery of my husband’s affair.  Receiving an ‘A’ grade and being told that my project could indeed eventually become a book gave me much needed encouragement, as did the incredible generosity of spirit, coupled with modesty, which oozed from every woman featured.  Only now, 10 years later, am I ready, as in truly authentic from within, to produce and publish the book.

Can you tell me more about what the ‘Women of Spirit’ movement involves? (The website, Facebook group etc)

www.womenofspirit.co.uk is now live. It will be a platform for the movement, and an e-commerce website, offering the book, plus books written by the women of spirit participants, courses, audios, bespoke silver jewellery (eg bangles with empowering phrases), faux flower posies and bouquets (flowers have different meanings so these can also be made to order) and even heavenly cake! We women of spirit rather like the feel fab factor!

Closed FB group where women can engage with the book participants for support and understanding.


Next year we will be putting together seminars with many of the participants, who are now qualified coaches in their own particular field – for example, Carol May, who used to engage in emotional eating and was disgusted by her overweight body, and survived on medication for her emotional disorders, is now a beautiful, slim, weight loss and eating disorders therapist, combining the mind/body elements which are essential for a healthy lifestyle. When I met her, warmth and wisdom oozed from her beautiful being!

What was your favourite part of the writing process? 

Meeting the women and doing their portraits!! As for the actual writing, sometimes my heart would go bump when I read something that I knew would resonate with and inspire others – the sheer generosity of women sharing their life stories blew my mind.

What keeps you motivated?

Knowing that the participants in Volume One have found writing their stories incredibly cathartic, and that their relationships with not only themselves but their loved ones has often reached a new level.

Also I want to reach as many women as possible and support them in their road to self-empowerment so they don’t have to wait until they are nearly 60 to reach this. My life and the mistakes I made due to low self-worth now have meaning, in that my rocky road has led me to this point- to help others find their true worth.

What are some of your favourite books? 

I love to read intelligent chic-lit when I go to bed – love a good drama/love story and often find inspiration! Anything by Santa Montefiore, Jodie Picoult, Jo-Jo Moyes. And cook books. I have so many but cannot resist them, partly because I love food, cooking, and I particularly love cook books with scrummy photos!

And what do you like to do in your free time? 

(Some free time would be fab lol!)

Being visual, I love watching films and good drama on TV – that’s my down time. I live in the heart of beautiful Cheltenham so walk everywhere when I can – even just to go out and immerse myself in the beauty of the buildings and tree-lined streets. Love music, could not be without it. Currently into Rag and Bone Man and Imelda May. Spending time with friends – usually out and about in town, a catch-up over coffee, glass of wine or a meal – Cheltenham is vibrant with a great choice of places to enjoy. Three times a week I do Pilates with my friend and personal trainer Annie Crowther, who trained with Jane Fonda and who is a lady of a certain age like me! Now that I value myself enough to look after myself, I’m committed to becoming fit and toned before I hit 60 in March! Best of all is spending quality time with my family. I’m lucky enough to still have both my parents, who have been a great support. And totally blessed with my amazingly gorgeous daughters Lottie (26) and Bea (23), who are a huge source of joy, love, laughter and hugs.

It means so much to me that my daughters have also come through challenges – some of which were my doing, in my choice of relationships – and are such bright, kind and loving young women – Lottie has just shared my FB post and said this ☺ :

“My super amazing and super gorgeous mummy will be talking on BBC Radio Gloucester this afternoon at 3pm about her book – Women of Spirit. I cannot put into words how proud I am and how lucky I feel to have this beautiful, empowering and incredible woman as my mother.”

Women of Spirit

Women of Spirit was released on 29th November 2017 and is available now from Amazon.

I think it goes without saying that I recommend this book. Buy it – as a gift, or a gift to yourself. You deserve it, and you’re never alone.

The Women of Spirit Movement has also just started taking bookings for it’s first event, for which you can find more details at https://www.womenofspirit.co.uk/events

Thank you so much to Susie for the interview, and for writing your book and starting the Women of Spirit movement, I’ll be following it closely.

Women of Spirit

About The Author


Mama of two beautiful boys. I’m veggie, vintage loving, a bit of a crafter and a bit of a hippy. I love the countryside and pretty things.


  1. Dalene | 19th Dec 17

    I’d love to read Women of Spirit ,sure it is an inspiring. Sometimes, reading such gives us great strength and hope to go through adversities in life. And I’m glad that there is also the movement that supports women! Thank you for the great interview!

    • thesparklenest | 20th Dec 17

      Thank you Dalene, it’s amazing how sitting and reading a book can inspire us so much, I really recommend this one!

  2. five little doves | 19th Dec 17

    Oh I love the look of this book! I love to read about extraordinary women who motivate and inspire others!
    five little doves recently posted…Our weekend at Lapland UK 2017My Profile

  3. Soonjoo | 19th Dec 17

    Great book! I love to read more women powerful inspiring book for 2018!

  4. Blair villanueva | 20th Dec 17

    I am interested to read her book! Is this available via Amazon? I think I will learn so much from her experiences.

    • thesparklenest | 20th Dec 17

      Hi Blair, yes the book is available from Amazon, there is a link in the post to the Amazon page, or if you type in the title then you will find it. Enjoy!

  5. jhilmil | 20th Dec 17

    Oh wow, you’re lucky to have such a great mama for yourself, the books looks really captivating and I must get a copy for myself.
    jhilmil recently posted…MyPedia Reader : Stories by Children for Children!My Profile

  6. kavita | 20th Dec 17

    I love the look and book very much! I want to read the book, especially the part how women beat the illness, disempowerment, racism, bereavement, and lack of acceptance.

    I highly agree that we all have enormous strength and the only difference is that some may know that power while others may not.
    kavita recently posted…How to make your own Snow on Christmas Eve ♥♥♥My Profile

  7. Henny | 20th Dec 17

    I can’t tell you how much you should buy this book! The strength these women have shown is remarkable, I had the privilege of meeting them at Susie’s book launch and was moved to tears at their strength. If you have the chance I would attend one of the Women of Spirit Seminars where you can meet these women face to face, hear their stories and learn that life can be cruel and also full of wonderful uplifting moments even in the face of adversity. The best bit is that these women are now thriving, running their own businesses, leading happy and fulfilled lives. Just what you need for the start of a new year. If you know a friend who is going through something send them this book. It will give them hope in dark times.

    • thesparklenest | 20th Dec 17

      Thank you for your comment Henny, I couldn’t make the launch but I really wish I had been able to, especially since reading the stories in the book, I’d love to meet the women involved in it. One of the Women of Spirit seminars is definitely something I’d like to do next year, I hope I can make it happen. Happy Christmas to you!

  8. Rhian Westbury | 20th Dec 17

    This sounds like such a good book, anything which can touch you emotionally and really make you think is a good book x
    Rhian Westbury recently posted…Five Things – Week 95My Profile

  9. Sarmistha Goswami | 20th Dec 17

    We all go through tough times and feel extremely lonely and depressed at times, and books like these inspire one to keep going. This looks like a good book for sure and I would love to read it.
    Sarmistha Goswami recently posted…Layering a Leopard DressMy Profile

  10. Super Busy Mum | 20th Dec 17

    I have never heard of this book before but it sounds great – I’ll have to keep an eye out of tit, thanks!
    Super Busy Mum recently posted…Fast photo printing with PrinticularMy Profile

  11. Samantha | 20th Dec 17

    Wow I’ve never heard of this book but it’s something I would really love to read. It sounds like such a good book & so inspiring!

  12. Jackie Goff | 21st Dec 17

    Great interview! I would definitely love to read this book. We have so much we can learn from each other as wonderful, strong women!

  13. Jen | 21st Dec 17

    The power of written words can be so very meaningful. I have found in the past that reading a book with a positive message in it can be very endearing. Susie’s book does sound very good, and your interview with her was lovely to read. We often don’t see our strengths until we read about other’s.

  14. Kara | 21st Dec 17

    Sounds like an inspirational book to read, perfect start to the new year
    Kara recently posted…3 fabulous Cocktails to enjoy this ChristmasMy Profile

  15. Rosie Romance | 21st Dec 17

    This sounds like such an inspiring book! And how lovely that you managed to ask the author some questions. It’s great to get inside the writer’s head and find out their motivation. I’ll be sure to put this on my 2018 reading list :)



  16. Nina | 21st Dec 17

    I loved this post! I will definitely be reading this book now it sounds so fabulous!

  17. Ali Rost | 22nd Dec 17

    What a beautiful interview with Susie. Such a wonderful gift she’s given to the world via this book. I look around at my life and am struck by all of the strong and kind women who are in it. Each has a story to tell and are heroines, each in their own ways. I’ve been on the hunt for a good book and I think I’ve found it. x

  18. Helen | 22nd Dec 17

    Women of Spirit sounds such an inspirational read. I loved hearing from the author too, learning about her inspiration is so interesting.
    Helen recently posted…Merry Christmas and a Happy New YearMy Profile

  19. Rachel | 22nd Dec 17

    This sounds like quite the empowering and motivational read x
    Rachel recently posted…Getting Cosy with Christmas CandlesMy Profile

  20. stephanie | 22nd Dec 17

    What a fab book! I know a few of my friends who could do with reading this at the moment, including myself x

  21. Rahul Khurana | 23rd Dec 17

    Seems like an interesting read and very inspiring too. Need more books like this so that the stories of unsung women get a face and much more can get inspiration to believe in themselves. :)

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge