One of the great joys of 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 life's blood of the site in 2014 -- and I wish there was a way to personally thank each and every one of them. For now, suffice it to say that their work is enjoyed and very much appreciated. Fortunately, I do 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 third 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 last year from 14 standout storytellers.
1. From Robin Korth, we learned to claim every inch of our bodies with pride, no matter what our age.
In her blog "My Naked Truth," Korth wrote honestly and openly about the time a man she was dating complained that her 59-year-old body was too wrinkly to be sexually attractive.
"I was stunned. The hurt would come later. I asked him slowly and carefully if he found my body hard to look at. He said yes. 'So, this means seeing me naked was troublesome to you?' I asked. He told me he had just looked away. And when the lights were out, he pretended my body was younger -- that I was younger. My breath came deep and full as I processed this information. My face blazed as I felt embarrassed and shamed by memories of my easy nakedness with him in days just passed."
2. From Tim Peek, we learned how to put fun, passion and commitment back into a marriage.
In his blog, "The Scary Thing One Couple Did Every Day For 365 Day Straight To Save Their Marriage," Peek wrote about how he and his wife, Meg, got their own relationship back on track.
"For 365 days, ours was a day-by-day marriage. Once we got serious about re-inventing our relationship, Meg and I got down to the basic proposition: Yes, we love each other; that much we never questioned. But do we really want to be together? Like Lord Voldemort, it is a thing so dreadful that we had avoided asking it for years. In relationships consecrated with the phrase until 'death do us part,' this is no casual question. But not only did we ask the question, we asked it every day for a whole year."
3. From Kat Forsythe, we learned that sometimes it's OK -- and even necessary -- to be terrified after the end of a long relationship.
In her blog, "7 Ways To Use Fear To Your Advantage," Forsythe wrote about being single again after 33 years of marriage.
"A hard bright light dawned on moving day. Dozens of brown, cardboard boxes filled with my belongings were stacked everywhere in my otherwise empty house. My entire history was packed up, ready to be hauled off to San Francisco where I would reinvent myself. My 33-year marriage was over. I was single again. And I was terrified. Even though I'm a strong woman, a leader, a person who normally doesn't break down, I cried tears of desolation. With red, swollen eyes, I looked at my friend and whispered, 'Oh, Michael, I'm so scared.' He grabbed my shoulders, placed me squarely in front of him and said, 'Look at me, Kat. If you're not scared, you're not doing it right.' He was right, of course. Not only is it OK to be terrified, it's necessary. It was a lesson that helped change my life."
4. From Pat Gallagher, we learned how to ask the right questions.
In her interview with Kevin Costner -- one of many insightful celebrity interviews submitted by Gallagher this past year -- she wrote about how blessed the star feels to be the father of seven children.
Gallagher asked: "What's the one thing you hope your children remember about you?" Costner replied: "I think that I played with them. That I didn't talk down to them. That I was on ground-level with them. That their dad wasn't afraid of anything."
5. From our senior writer Ann Brenoff, who wrote countless provocative pieces for Huff/Post 50 this year, we learned about the economic realities facing those 50 and older.
In her blog "5 Years After I Lost My Job: What's Changed?", Brenoff wrote about the devastation that rocked her peers during the Great Recession.
"I see friends in their 50s and 60s still hustling for gigs, others who have lost their homes, watched their marriages cave to the stress of unemployment, and who die a little more with each rejection they get when they venture into the job market. I know many who have just stopped looking for work. They laugh at the government's 'falling' unemployment numbers knowing that the reason the numbers are dropping is because these people who have retreated from the job market aren't being counted anymore. They've gone underground, disappeared from our radar, getting by by stringing together piecemeal work and draining what remains of their savings as they live with in-laws, adult kids."
6. From Ken Solin, we learned that not all single men over 50 are looking for casual sex with a younger woman.
In his blog "What I've Learned About Living Life To The Fullest As I Approach 70," Solin wrote about appreciating what we have now and looking forward to what's still to come -- both in and out of the bedroom.
"I'm grateful I still function well sexually. I've become more of a slow dancer than a steam-driven piston, and it's this sweet waltz that has redefined lovemaking in my relationship. The good news is that the more my partner and I deepen our emotional intimacy, the longer my sexual warranty seems to get extended."
7. From Sharon Greenthal, we learned that being happily married is not the same thing as being happy all the time.
In her blog "What I Learned After 25 Years Of Marriage," Greenthal wrote that a marriage has to be bigger than either person in it.
"Being happily married is not the same thing as being happy all the time. Being happily married is understanding that marriage is a contract and a commitment. Being happily married is putting the success of the marriage above either person's individual needs or desires. The marriage has to be bigger than either person. The marriage has to take priority over anything else in your lives -- at least most of the time."
8. From Erica Jagger, we learned that people over 50 are enjoying hot sex -- and a lot of it.
In her blog, "The Difference Between Mediocre Sex And Mind-Blowing Sex," Jagger wrote that great sex is an art form.
"Great sex is erotic improv. You know where it's headed, but you don't know how it will get there. It takes shape as lovers read each other's body language, calibrating tongues, lips, touch and movement. What might make you cringe during bad sex -- panting, a musky odor, the sound of an enthusiastic tongue -- might make you shudder with awe during great sex."
9. From John Tarnoff, we learned how to successfully reinvent ourselves after 50.
In his blog, "The Reasons Why Our Longer Lives Are Going To Be A Blast," Tarnoff wrote about how to use our extra years to build a legacy.
"Our generation is going to have a longer period in which to make a lasting impact. For some of us, it means we're just going to be able to keep on going, and to maintain our direction and our output for longer. My first thought, as someone with roots in the entertainment business, is that we're going to see our favorite film directors making great movies for a lot longer. Look at Clint Eastwood's amazing and multi-faceted career: he is currently completing his 37th film as director at age 84."
10. From Lisa Copeland, we learned how to date successfully after 50.
In her blog, "The Four Words Every Man Wants To Hear From A Woman," Copeland wrote about how to attract and keep a partner.
"You are only going to attract a man who loves you as much as you love yourself, so now's the time to find out what makes you so special. Start by making a list of all the things you love about you. If you can't think of qualities you love, at least come up with things you are grateful for. The best gift you can give yourself is to stop comparing yourself today to your 20-year-old self. You'll never win if you do. Instead, learn to love everything about you as the awesome woman you are today."
11. From Phyllis Sues, we learned how full and amazing life can be at 90 and beyond!
In her blog, "Enjoying The Greatest High Of My Life At 91," Sues wrote about going skydiving -- for a second time.
"What a way to see planet earth and experience being part of the universe. Nothing compares. Nothing! Second time around is better! Scary? Maybe. Tentative? A little. Anxiety? Of course! Skydiving is the best high you'll ever have or had, and there's no down side. There's something about being 91 that gives you 'carte blanche' to try everything within reason. For me, skydiving is within reason. I'm going for my third! So you see, it's really never, never too late!"
12. From Margaret Manning, we learned that feelings of loneliness are nothing to be ashamed of.
In her blog, "Let's Break The Stigma Of Loneliness After 50," Manning wrote that even admitting you feel lonely is a challenge.
"Loneliness is like debt -- almost everyone has it, but, we would rather confess to having an affair or stealing than admit it. Acknowledging that we are lonely forces us to face our darkest fears. It asks us to turn a mirror on our own lives at a time when we feel our most vulnerable. For older people, the sting of loneliness is twice as sharp. Every day, the media bombards us with images of the 'lonely senior.' By admitting that we feel lonely, we feel like we are becoming a ghost, in the eyes of others and ourselves. It is easier to hide than to disappear."
13. From Mary Eileen Williams, we learned the best ways to find a job, after 50, in an extremely competitive job market.
In her blog, "10 Effective Tips For Frustrated Midlifers Seeking Work," Williams wrote about the importance of stepping back and reassessing your strategy.
"The mindset you present to others (and to yourself) regarding your viability as a candidate underscores every aspect of your job search. If you are negative, angry or insecure, it will show. Moreover, these attitudes are off-putting to both your networking partners and to potential employers. Make certain, therefore, you are pursuing activities that will elevate your spirits: regular physical activity, volunteering, meeting frequently with friends and joining job search groups where you exchange leads and ideas. These are all important ways you can keep your outlook positive."
14. Finally, from Renee Fisher, we learned how to laugh at ourselves.
In her blog, "7 Reasons Why Cats Make Bad Pets," Fisher wrote that cats, like the people you meet on Match.com, are not quite what they appear to be.
"When a dog goes without food for awhile and we fill his bowl, he licks our feet in gratitude. When we neglect to feed our cats in a timely manner, they hiss at us and throw our cell phones into the toilet. The smarter ones then flush."
To all of the above -- and all of the other bloggers who've submitted pieces this past year -- we thank you. Have a wonderful 2015. I, for one, can't wait to read what you write next.