All of us have days we’d like to relive, things we wish we’d done differently, mistakes we wish we could correct, different roads we wish we’d taken, or promises we wish we’d kept…or never made.

We ALL have regrets.

 The Fifth Annual Life Lessons Essay Contest welcomes your story. Write about a decision you regret—anything from a poor choice you made in high school to a serious lapse in judgment with major consequences as an adult—and then write about what the mistake taught you about yourself.

(I’m sharing this writing contest in honor of my mom. Before dementia and age stopped her writing, she and I challenged each other to enter writing contests. We each had to at least TRY…or buy the other one lunch.)  Here’s an idea: ask family, friends, other writers and bloggers to join your challenge!

This contest is a great writing opportunity. The winning essay will be published in REAL SIMPLE, and the writer will receive a prize of $3,000, plus round-trip tickets for two to New York City, hotel accommodations for two nights, tickets to a Broadway play, and lunch with the editors.

 2nd place receives $500.  3rd place receives $250.

 Length: 1,500 words max        THERE IS NO ENTRY FEE

 Deadline is 11:50 P.M. ET  ~  September 13, 2012

 Submit via e-mail or US mail. Full details, examples, answered questions & helpful hints at

Come on, what have you got to lose? Rise to the occasion & take the challenge…double-dog dare ya!




Filed under Dementia/Alzheimer's, lessons about life, making a difference, writing, writing contest with cash prizes

33 responses to “GOT REGRETS? GRAB A PEN!

  1. juliabarrett

    Oh honey… I wouldn’t even know where to begin…

    • You’re so funny, Julia. Think like Frank Sinatra–“Regrets, I’ve had a FEW…but I did it My Way.” The contest is just an opportunity, no one on this blog will know if you decided to write about yours and enter, so your secret if safe from us. But if you did enter I bet you could teach a wonderful, and funny, lesson.

  2. Daniela

    Well … I am thinking about it. Like everyone I made some decisions, outcome of which I did not like … but I have learned from them. So I chose to refer to them as experiences rather than regrets.

    • I feel the same way, Daniela, but when I saw this contest, it really made me think. Suddenly all kinds of memories came back, and the only ones I regret are the ones I didn’t learn from…Thinking about them now, I’m finally putting all the pieces together.

  3. Hi marylin!

    I have nominated you for the Super Sweet Blogger Award. I found your blog beautiful and you do inspire me in many ways so I believe you deserve this, too.

    Just take a look on this link to learn the rules:

    Congratulations! 🙂


  4. Mack, you are so thoughtful and supportive. Thank you.

  5. Oh Marylin, like Julia I wouldn’t know where to start and I may even, nope would take to long xxxxxx

  6. Oh-oh, Tom…it’s the “I may even, nope would take too long” that of course will have everyone nagging you to write about one or more of your regrets.
    You and Julia both say you wouldn’t know where to start. When I first read about this contest and started making a list of things I could write about, my problem was I didn’t know where to STOP.
    This a good contest by a reputable publication, and with no entry fee it will probably have MANY entries, but I’m hoping those in my writing class will give it a try. If only my mom didn’t have dementia so she still could write, she’d be sitting in her chair at the window, a tablet on her lap, a pen in her hand, and ideas swirling in her mind.
    And those of us who didn’t at least try the contest would have to pay for lunch!

  7. That is some list of prizes! You’re right: There really is nothing to lose. Thanks for sharing this.

    • There are so many contests out there that charge entry fees, so this one was a surprise. I double checked it before recommending it, and REAL SIMPLE has a good reputation. And while the topic was kind of off-putting at first, the more I thought about it, the more regrets I realized had come with good life lessons. If you’ll try it, Darla, so will I!

  8. Thanks for sharing this with us, Marylin!

  9. Oh, what a great idea and what a challenging theme, thanks for sharing! I’d love to enter this contest even for the opportunity to write about this subject. I’ll see if I can find the time.

    It reminds me of Sheryl Crow’s song about her relationship with Eric Clapton and saying “you’re my favorite mistake”. What a nice way to put it.

  10. Marie


    This is Marie, from Missouri, and my daughter Willow and I are so excited about this opportunity that you have shared with all of us. She and I have decided that we are both going to enter it, but not share our regrets with each other, unless one of us wins – then we will share it in New York!!! We have always loved the contests that you sponsor, and this one seems equally as wonderful! Thanks again for sharing.

    • This is great, Marie. I didn’t sponsor this contest; I just read about it, checked it out for details, and then passed it on. I’m so glad you and Willow are both going to enter–the prizes are amazing, and there’s no entry fee, so there’s nothing to lose–and I’m still smiling that you won’t share your regrets with each other, unless you win and it’s in New York!
      Good luck (and maybe your husband Sam will catch the writing bug and decided to enter, too!)

  11. Thanks for the info on the contest, Marylin. I’m a new follower and I’m loving your blog. So much so that I nominated you for the Liebster Award. 🙂 You can find out more at my site, Keep up the good work!

  12. snowbirdpress

    Thanks for visiting my blog… Your blog is a wonderful document of love.

  13. Great opportunity! I just might have to enter this one… 🙂

    • Excellent! There’s lots you can gain, Pamela, but absolutely nothing to lose. Some of my best sales to magazines and anthologies through the years came from first writing an entry for a contest. A couple of contests I actually won, but more often when I didn’t I made some changes, searched the WRITER’S MARKET and sold the piece another way.

  14. I’m doing it! I’ve got it started already 🙂 Thanks for sharing. Angie

  15. What a great idea for a contest!! I wish I’d found your blog, sooner!

  16. Wow. I wish I had seen this sooner! Clever write, and fun premise, and I bet you had your work cut out for you! Maybe next year, providing I regret something, of course 😉

    • I did enter it–11th hour, after meeting a friend for breakfast and trading entries for comments–and this was a hard one to write. But I love entering contests and have had some encouraging successes. But when prize money is this high and there’s no entry fee, you know there will be a lot of competition. Those of us who entered are now challenging each other to find regular submission places where our contest entries can be “tweaked” to fit the magazine’s needs. I’ll let you know if the “regret” theme comes up again! ;=)

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