“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
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.
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.’
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 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.