WITH more than two centuries between them, three Port Shepstone female’s stories epitomise women’s strength to remain positive throughout life’s tribulations.“Look forward, put your shoulders back, lift your head high, stick your chest out and be honourable.”That is the simple recipe for dealing with the trying times of life says Winn Maan (77), adding that “whatever you put into the world you are going to get back”.Maan is no stranger to trials she explains. She was abandoned by her biological mother as a baby and when she was four her soldier father returned from war to raise her with her paraplegic step mom. As an adult Maan survived two divorces and raised two daughters as a single parent.“I feel sorry for teenagers who rush into pregnancy so young. They have no idea what they are doing. Children are not toys. They are real little people with real emotions and real needs.” Despite her experiences Maan, however, said she believed in marriage and her daughters are happily married. “Marriage is a good institution - it is what goes on in the world around it that is making marriage so vulnerable. People are too quick to think that the grass is greener on the other side - there is too much temptation from outside the unit,” said Maan.With a life on the polar end of Maan’s, Pam Nel (86) was never married. “I’ve been a godmother so many times I’ve lost count,” Nel says. Being raised by her widowed mother on what was in those days known on a single woman’s salary, as opposed to a married man’s salary, which was categorically higher, Nel had to start work at 17 to support her family. “The one thing my mother taught me is to ‘get up and do it’. That is the strength that women have, to be able to get up and get on with things despite the circumstances,” said Nel. Kenyan-born Ingrid Butterfield’s (79) wealth of experience was compiled through a series of world travels. Butterfield moved to South Africa at age six, grew up in the then Natal and when she married travelled around the world with her civil engineer husband.With their three children, the Butterfields lived in four countries, including Zimbabwe, Malawi, Canada and Hong Kong.“When we moved from Canada to Malawi we first toured Europe on a Campervan with a tent at the back,” remembers Butterfield. Her life took a sudden turn in 1981 when her daughter, who was 18 at the time, died from malaria, an incident she said led to her divorce in 1986, and she moved back to South Africa with the two children. “It is very important for women to be independent and not rely too much on other people, that is what helped me through those difficult years and it is also important to always keep a positive attitude and not dwell on the past,” said Butterfield. “Always remember, the most important person is you,” she said.