International Women’s Day

The women of Benchworks share their favorite quotes and stories that inspire and empower them everyday!
As the oldest of 4 granddaughters to a woman who raised two children alone as a very young widow, I recall many stories growing up that described the experiences that made my “nana” the woman I so respected, emulated, and loved.
Although Nana had only a high school education, upon being thrust into a “man’s world” as a single mother of two, she found a job, excelled at it, and made it a career, retiring finally at 75. She raised her children and kept them clothed, well-fed, and educated. She made mistakes, made few apologies, learned and grew as a person; though she never remarried, she filled her life with lifelong friends, close family, and plenty of wonderful memories.
As I approached adulthood myself, she was one of my biggest supporters and most stern teachers. When I hesitated to try new things or doubted myself, she pushed me headlong towards the challenge, caught me when/if I fell, and helped me stand again, often reminding me: “You’re gonna be happy,” said life, “but first I’ll make you strong.”
Nana lived to be 99 and I was there to hold the hand of the strongest woman I’ve known.
Life has afforded me plenty of personal and professional challenges, some wins and some losses. Nana’s voice and sentiment continues to ring true through them all. As the mother of a strong and independent 20-something woman who is facing life’s challenges emboldened with her great-nana’s spirit, I proudly look toward the future, celebrating the spirit and strength of all strong women I know today and those who have come before.

When you learn, teach. When you get, give. -Maya Angelou
I love this quote because it’s so humanistic. It’s the essence of sisterhood. It’s survival and it’s how we will chop away at any disparities to make whole!