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Baby Boomers Blog on Stage of Life

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Stage of Life® is a free writing community for Baby Boomers in the Empty Nest and Retirement stages of life.  Get involved with our educational mission:  Share a life experience about your empty nest experience or retirement planning, explore our retirement and empty nest resources, such as information about the Baby Boomer generation, quotes about Retirement, statistics about Baby Boomers, and more.  Plus, save money with our coupons for Baby Boomers.  Whether you're a retiree (or soon-to-be retiree) or "Empty Nester" - we look forward to reading your essays about and helping you save money during the empty nest and retirement years.

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Recent Writing Contest Winners

Winning Essay WritersWinning Writing Contest EssaysBefore you scroll down to read the essays, stories, and blogs being submitted to StageofLife.com, let's celebrate the recent writing contest winners.  We select one essay each month from across all of the non-student life stages to win our monthly blogging contests

Basically...these winning essays are selected from all of you "grown-ups" out there writing on Stage of Life...

Past Writing Contest Winners

Empty Nest & Retirement Stories

I furtively peek down the hospital hallway to see if the coast is clear, and then hurry back to Dad’s bedside. I open the top drawer of his bedside table and lift out the carefully disguised wine bottle hidden below the body wipes and diapers. I unscrew the cap, and pour out a small serving of merlot and place it on his food tray.With trembling hands, dad reaches for the tiny paper cup and sips delicately. “Delicious! You made my day.”Dad is a WW11 vet, now spendin...
Iron ManMy ancestors were NorsemenWith genocidal interlopersFrom Slovenia and Montenegro -Vikings with a dark side. They arrived on ships - too many Olsens.Changed their names to something Anglo,Gilbert; something French, Gilbert,Then settled a forsaken place. A land caressed by glaciersLashed by Arctic tongues of Canada,No place for French nor EnglishmenNor Latinos or Africans. We grew up poorPump handle poorHunting, fishing, killing poor...
Dan Tolonen was the patriarch of our family. He was a tough man in a tough part of the country – Northern Minnesota’s iron mining Mesabi Range. He started out as a sailor on the Great Lakes, but his dream was to own a farm in Minnesota. He realized his dream by starting with a small farm and eventually buying a 250 acre farm in Balkan, Minnesota. He worked the farm his entire life, and also became a miner in the iron ore mines. As a miner, he joined the union and rose th...
As Thanksgiving is near, I picture a table with abundance of food, but for me, sweet potatoes have the sweetest taste of nostalgia. Rice had been the most basic part of all Japanese meals; however with the surrender of WWII rice was hard to come by. Hence, we compromised by eating sweet potatoes in lieu of rice. We ate lots of potatoes. Those days are bitter and sweet with post war memories. On Sunday mornings we slept a little later than on school days. “Ba-Chan, Ohay...
We miss you and love you, Pence. Brutally Beautiful by Toianna WikaAnxiety, phobias, and binge eating are daily reminders of my having always been different and awkward in social situations and how many hurdles I have overcome, after having grown up in an alcoholic family, with a violent father.My therapist compared me to a war veteran, forced to learn how to get around on one leg. Having been an advocate for mentally ill clients took all of the steely determinati...
Savory Associations by Toianna WikaDiscovery of cheddar cheese and tomato sandwiches while I was in Dublin, Ireland during college and reading everything I could get my hands on by Oscar Wilde was delightful.My family and I have favorite places for different kinds of food all over America, after having driven from Seattle to Florida and back, twice. However, like a first true love, Seattle comes to mind first for food that has enhanced momentous occasio...
The manila box that contained a simple pound cake was far from fresh when it arrivedto its destination from across the Pacific Ocean. Sent almost as an afterthought by his aunt who lived in upstate New York, the cake waseagerly opened by the tired and dirty hands of the soldier who was taking a mountaintopbreak in the Central Highlands of Vietnam, where he served as an infantryman. The cake was ferried to the mountain, along with other packages, by a supply helico...
The belief that too much of everything is as bad as too little, will depend on who is making that assessment and what the precise excess is?Maintaining any excess that can sustain life, such as food, water, shelter with the ability to help those in need, however not provide assistance to those in need can be considered horribly bad if the person has the necessary resources and ability to help.However, those in need will always look upon those with excesses they desire...
If you watch television these days you’ll see all sorts of commercials about life insurance. The theme is usually the same: a strapping young man just out of college finds a job and buys insurance to secure his future. Or a man in his late 20s has just got married and buys a life insurance policy for his wife’s security, just in case. Or parents in their mid-30s all smiling and happy buy a life insurance policy so that their kid has something to fall back on if something dra...
Every year on April 11, I write “Happy Birthday, 31-5” to my son Jeff. He's always known what it meant because I made sure of it. In fact, whenever I wanted him to do something with me like go shopping or watch a chick-flick, if he balked at all, I’d just say, “31-5.” And he’d have no choice but to do my bidding. Recently, he shared his annual birthday card with his new girlfriend, Rose.“It’s from my mom,” he said. “Every year, the same message.”“How sweet.”...
HardwoodNovember maple, chiseled rough by stonesFrom pastured boulder crops that glaciers bring,Extending lichened frame like leafless bonesTo shelter sapling shoots it spawned last spring. The bark is frayed to grey by killing frost.With blackened base from fires in the field,The trunk is scarred with knots from limbs long lostAnd deeper cuts that bled and hurt and healed. Unmoved as soldier fusillades passed by,Then haunted by impromptu graves the...
Scar: My Survivor BadgeIt’s not pretty, even with recent scar revision by an excellent plastic surgeon. But it’s my daily reminder that I survived my battle with breast cancer 13 years ago. Other tokens strike me occasionally—partial toenails (a souvenir of a particularly virulent chemo drug), an irregular cardiac rhythm, a still-challenged immune system. But my big, beautiful seven-inch chest scar greets me as I slip my prosthesis over it every day. In the shower, I lo...
Did you see the news about the Great Dane in Portland, Oregon, that ate 43-1/2 socks (the half sock was a mystery)? It made me think of Nike--not the company, the dog.Nike was a large, sweet, handsome Belgian Shepherd owned by Bob Hoffman, owner of Playland, an amusement park, which recently closed, in Upstate New York. Many moons ago, we often took our daughters there for the arcade, rides or miniature golf; or if we were without the girls, my husband, my hero, so...
Dear Erik and Matt, I learned yesterday that a friend of mine, Liam Nevins, was killed in Afghanistan. He was murdered by an Afghan soldier, along with two other American soldiers. Liam worked for me in Afghanistan on my prior project, and I spent every day that I was in Kuwait with him. We had all meals together, rode to and from the base and worked together every day in the hot sun. At night we smoked Cuban cigars on the beach of the Arabian Sea. Liam remin...
We checked the weather all week, and it was going to be a cold overnight hike in the mountains – maybe down below freezing – so we packed for 30 degrees. When we arrived at the Waterrock trailhead , it was 10am, and the temperature was already down to 32 degrees with a stiff wind in the full sun. I had to help the ranger secure the flag line because the wind was whipping the flag all over the place. Hiking up another 1500 feet to sleep in a 3-sided shelter overnight seemed...
As Vietnam Vets, we try to help each other. When one of ours was in real trouble, my brothers stepped up. The following letter is a far better tribute than anything I could write:Dear Friends,This has been the hardest letter to write because I know my efforts are doomed to fail to convey my and Gary's gratitude to you fellow Shipmates. He has tried to explain the bond forged at USNA and has spoken so fondly of you over the years of our marriage. Now I am on the cusp of ...
The best hikes in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park – Mount LeConte and the Jump Off in the same weekend. We took the Alum Cave Bluff Trail to Mount LeConte, and because we were in bear country, Sharon asked if I would wear some bacon on my head – I declined. We experienced 5.5 miles of gorgeous and fascinating trails while ascending over 2700 feet to the third highest mountain in the Park. The first structure of interest is Rock Arch that was cut out of the mountain ...
Identify: Retirement Benefits We stood at the large window in the Miami International Airport and watched our last child take off for the next step of his life. Who am I now? I asked. I’m still a mother, but I’ve lost my job of raising kids. What will I do with my life now? Should I cry or celebrate? Then I discovered a page called, “Now I Think,” in my church periodical, inviting readers to express their opinions on current social issues. A popular t...
In two of my earliest Stage of Life blog posts, I mentioned physical therapy and breakfast. Although they arose in separate posts--exercise and sleep--the two came together once. I don’t recall what set off the physical therapist--perhaps I was too rigid--but in a rather accusatory tone, she said, “I bet you eat the same breakfast every day.”Given how vulnerable I was, lying on the table, looking up at her young face through my old eyes, I chose not to respo...
I had a complicated history concerning my religion and background. I always knew I was Jewish, but I was not always proud of my heritage. Some of it stemmed from my parents difficult relationship and divorce when I was only four. Some of it came from moving to a Christian suburb when I was eleven.My mother had, what they used to call, a nervous breakdown, and ended up hospitalized. She was told that she wouldn’t get well until she got herself out of her toxic situatio...
The word of the day is heedful, reminding me that I must ever be mindful of not only my actions but my words. I must remember that words that slip by the lips fall on ears that may misinterpret my meaning. My words are generated from within me, filtered through my likes, dislikes, beliefs and history then fall on ears that may have other filters and histories. Though I do not intentionally say hurtful things at times I see a reaction in another that surprises me when I see th...
I have a hunger for life that propels me forward everyday. I'm like my son when he got his first pair of glasses, "Mom, Dad!" his exuberance was uncontained. "There are leaves on the trees." Our first reaction? Well of course there are but we caught those words before they spilled past our lips. "Yes, there are. Didn't you know that?""Well I guess I knew it but when I look at a tree without my glasses all I see is a green blur. Now I see LEAVES!"There is so much to se...
It's really not about who I think I am but about who I am. I am a bent, twisted, heavy framed women with an oxygen hose in the nose. At least that will be your first impression should we ever meet. But wait, that is only the shell of me.. Look closer, look into my brown eyes with still a sparkle and zest for life. Don't be fooled by the external, that is a mistake we make. We only look at surface, we're in such a hurry to blow through this life, especially when we're young, t...
Celo Knob (elevation 6327 feet) is the last major peak in the Black Mountains of North Carolina. The Black Mountains include Mount Mitchell, the tallest mountain east of the Rockies, and the hike from Mount Mitchell to Celo Knob is called the Death March because of the rugged terrain and many mountains to summit en route. My wife and I attempted the Black Mountain Crest Trail last year, and it beat us down - we had to turn back one mountain shy of Celo Knob.So this ...
Each year on New Year’s Day it is interesting to reflect on the previous year and to recount how many things happened that nobody saw coming. It is astonishing how unpredictable our lives can be and how much change we experience on a regular basis. Albert Einstein said, “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” The question is how can we adapt to changing situations and modify our strategies to handle unforeseen demands and challenges?Think about trout. Tr...
"I can't believe they are paying me to have this much fun." If this was not my first thought every morning, I moved on to another fun job. Little wonder I am still working at 63, but, alas, times have changed and squeezed the fun out of working.The nest egg is secure, and the new job is retirement. I began contemplating retirement the last time I got laid off - I took a road trip from the Carolinas to Minnesota to New England. Sadly, I accomplished everything I had plan...
SEPTEMBER CLUB, ANYONE?As I danced my way through my late forties - man-about-town, bon vivant, gay blade, waiting for a casting director to spot me in a coffee shop - I received the first of two ominous mailings that brought my rollicking 18-wheeler to an abrupt halt: THE AARP INVITATION. Remember? We were certain that the mail carrier had made a mistake, but no, our name was clearly visible on the envelope, and as soon as these letters arrived, we began the first shreddin...
On June 30th, I surrendered my computer and my telephone. My desk was already emptied, all the pictures had been stripped from the walls of my office, and I handed in my keys. Before I left the building for the last time, I yanked my nameplate off the door.Retired. For many years, when asked, ‘what do you do?’ I’d talk enthusiastically about my job. The other focus was my children. Now, the kids have flown the nest, and I’ve been kicked off my perch. So, who am ...
The divisions of the Stages of Life are a good representation of my identity. I don’t fit in any of them. I’m an ‘empty nester’ but I’m not retired. I’m a grandparent but my grandchildren are very far away so I don’t feel like a real grandma. I’m a homeowner, but my home of 24 years is too big for me. I’m widowed so I don’t have a partner to share in any of my life activities. However, like the Apostle Paul, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every sit...
Here we are in sunny Florida, the last place I thought I would ever end up and we love our location! We are near Tampa, which has a lot more to offer than one would guess. It has a lovely Theater of the Arts, museums, a large amphitheater for concerts and best of all, the setting is beautiful.Since retiring to the area (from the Chicago area) my husband and I have also had some serious hardships. We have lost a son to a horrible brain disease and are still trying to c...

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StageofLife.com is an education-based, grassroots, non-partisan, free blogging community with a mission support digital literacy by making the world a better place, one story, essay, and blog at a time.  Stage of Life users (teens, college students, Millennials, Gen Y, Gen X, and Baby Boomers) can share and archive their life stories via their Stage of Life profile page.  Specialized content includes literacy resources, free lesson plans, writing prompts for Language Arts teachers, monthly writing contests for high school students (and older generations), student blogging initiatives, blog directories, and financial literacy tools - including Life Rewards® - our free discount program for all Stage of Life users, readers and writers dedicated to providing printable coupons and coupon codes tailored towards each stage of life.

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