One of the best things about my job as Senior Editor of Huff/Post 50 is that I get to read so many inspiring blogs by some of the most talented writers I've ever come across. Hundreds of bloggers have contributed pieces to 50 -- providing the lifeblood of the site -- and I wish there was a way to personally thank each and every one of them. Fortunately, I have a way in this space to call out at least some of our favorite bloggers as the year comes to a close.
For the fourth year in a row, we've curated a list of bloggers who've empowered us, sparked conversations among us and made us realize that you really can tick any box you want to, whether you're 50 or 100.
Here are the lessons we learned this past year from 15 standout storytellers.
1. From Hélène Tragos Stelian, we learned what not to say to women without children.
In her blog, "7 Appeals To Moms From Women Without Children," Hélène told us that women without children don't want to be judged, pitied or asked to explain their choice. "Children are not for everyone. Yes, there are women who don't yearn to carry or mother a child. All they ask is that we respect their personal choice, just as they accept ours. They want us to know that they live happy and productive lives and that we can talk about our kids with them," she wrote.
2. From Erica Jagger, we learned how to blend love and eroticism in a committed relationship.
In her blog, "Why I'm Choosing Monogamy After 2 Years Of Erotic Exploration," Erica said that it's possible to find deep love and great sex with the same man. "I'm grateful for my two years of post-divorce erotic exploration because it led me to where I am: in a committed relationship that blends love, sensuality, eroticism, and a decades-long family history. Home, for the first time," she wrote.
3. From Stanley Ely, we learned what it's like to grow old.
In his blog, "What It's Really Like To Turn 83," Stanley said that, every morning, he says a prayer of thanks for getting to a new day. "I'm grateful for a lot of great trips in the past, and in their place, grateful for a comfortable life closer to home today. Priorities change, though I hope I never stop appreciating handsome men," he wrote.
4. From Dawn Q. Landau, we learned about the pain that can come with an empty nest.
In her blog, "So You Just Dropped Your Kid Off At College," Dawn described the feelings she experienced watching her youngest child go as "100 paper cuts of adjustment." She wrote: "What took me by surprise this time around was how real it all felt, and how keenly aware I was of each transition. This is the last time I'll do these things. This was not my first Bed, Bath and Beyond rodeo."
5. From Pat Gallagher, we learned just a little bit more about all our favorite celebrities.
In her interview, "Donny Osmond Gets Personal With 'Soundtrack Of My Life'," Pat asked the "Puppy Love" singer what it's like to be called a "has-been." Osmond said you can't let it get to you. "You can't walk out on stage and say, 'I hope you like what I do.' You have to walk out on stage and say, 'This is going to be great!' I learned that from Elvis and all those guys when I worked around them," he told her.
6. From Huff/Post50's senior writer Ann Brenoff, who's relentlessly covered the topic of ageism, we learned that the underrepresentation of older workers in the tech industry -- and in many industries -- is a serious issue.
In her blog, "Where Are All The Old People In Silicon Valley?" Ann explained that ageism is the last accepted prejudice in America. "Without diminishing the need for more women and minorities, why isn't the lack of older workers -- anyone over 40 -- even being talked about, let alone being addressed?" she wrote.
7. From Joe Seldner, we learned that angry white people are facing a new reality -- whether they like it or not.
In his blog, "Last Hurrah For The Old, White, Angry Crowd," Seldner wrote that: "When I look at the people in back of [Donald] Trump when he takes the podium, I wonder: Is it by design that there are so few non-white folks in his audience? Would including such people send a message to Trump supporters that he doesn't want to send? Enjoy your summer of Trump. Or maybe fall and winter of Trump. But it will end soon. The world and the country are changing, and no amount of anger will hold that back."
8. From Huff/Post50 associate editor Yagana Shah, we learned that parents can make their children feel loved without ever uttering the L-word.
In her blog, "My Dad Rarely Says 'I Love You' But I Couldn't Feel More Loved," Yagana wrote, "Despite their 'aversion' to saying 'I love you,' my parents have always been there for us. Love is being a 50-plus dad and still taking your 7-year-old out in the driveway after working late just so you can teach her how to ride a bike. Love is giving your daughter away at her wedding after 25 years of raising her and not being able to say goodbye through the tears."
9. From Laurie Burrows Grad, we learned about the pain of losing a spouse.
In her blog, "I Lost My Spouse A Month Ago And The Pain Is Unimaginable," Laurie wrote, "The hardest thing about grief is to see life going on. People all around me continue to do their daily routines. The stock market keeps functioning; meteorologists predict the weather; time marches on. I cannot understand how I have lost Peter and the clocks have not stopped."
10. From Michelle Combs, we learned that there are at least a few things we're too old for after 50.
In her blog, "8 Things I'm Too Old For," Michelle described a few things for which the ship has sailed. She wrote, "I no longer have any guilty pleasures. I just have regular pleasures. I don't feel guilty about liking Lady Gaga. I don't feel guilty about reading every Stephanie Plum book and I certainly don't feel guilty about getting obsessive about a TV show and watching it over and over. I have moved on from Supernatural and Doctor Who. I am currently re-binge watching The Walking Dead. Because Daryl."
11. From Michael Hodin, we learned about the repercussions of an aging population.
In his blog, "Longevity Changes Everything," Michael wrote, "As the 2016 American presidential campaign gets rolling, it will be interesting to see how the candidates outline their strategies for population aging. The candidate who gets it right will not talk about 'how to deal with more old people,' but how to drive economic growth as aging demographics shape productivity, labor participation, and financial planning."
12. From Shannon Bradley-Colleary, we learned how to shake up a stagnant sex life.
In her blog, "The 2 Things Women Want In Bed That We're Not Talking About," Shannon wrote, "Realizing sexual boredom was my issue, not [my husband's], I went to see my former font-of-wisdom (a.k.a. therapist) and admitted that I didn't want the intimate, tender lovemaking that typified my bedroom. Instead, I found books and movies where women are sexually ravished and even aggressively taken exciting. And that I judged myself for it."
13. From Barbara Hannah Grufferman, we learned how to take better care of ourselves.
In her blog, "So You Broke A Bone," Barbara wrote: "The cavalier attitude towards osteoporosis can not only have a devastating impact on a human life, but a costly one on the health care system. Heart attack, stroke and breast cancer hospitalizations cost the healthcare system $4.3 billion, $3 billion and $500 million per year, respectively. But fractures led to an estimated hospital cost of more than $5 billion per year."
14. From Iris Ruth Pastor, we learned how to sustain a longtime marriage.
In her blog, "How We Reinvigorated Our Marriage In An Empty Nest," Iris wrote: "Now it's just my husband and me. How do we fill the drifty hours of openness, mingle in the uneasy silence, make the nest whole? How do we adjust to not seeing our children daily? How do we stop ourselves from holding onto a little bird that needs to test his wings? How do we stop the sadness over what is being lost?"
15. From Ken Solin, we learned that one person really can make a huge difference in the lives of others.
In his blog, "Meet The Chef Who's Feeding 1,400 Needy Children Every Day," Ken told us about Bruno Serato, an Italian who emigrated to America 30 years ago. He delivers food for the poor to 20 locations in 10 cities in Orange County, California. Ken said that Bruno doesn't like to be called a hero. "Bruno hasn't a shred of ego. He only agreed to be interviewed to raise public awareness about America's hungry children. At 59, Bruno Serato is an ordinary man doing extraordinary things. A million meals is a Herculean feat for an individual. Bruno Serato fits anyone's definition of heroism," Ken wrote.