Listen to the Shouldn’ts? Hell to the No.

Recently I’ve been reading a great deal about the things I shouldn’t do, or should do, it’s pretty much the same thing. Apparently as a woman over 50 I fit into the top two categories of people whom others think they should be bossing around.

  • Don’t wear mini skirts after 50.
  • Go gray naturally.
  • Things you don’t need after 50.
  • Eat this after 50.
  • Mustn’t eat this after 50.
  • Don’t expect love at first site after 50.
  • Drink no wine after your time. (If you get that, you are definitely over 50.)
  • Let me start out by explaining this to writers everywhere. Stop. Telling. Women. What. To. Do.


I haven’t been told “Stop” this many times since I was four and climbed on top of the refrigerator to throw down the eggs kept up there, one little fragile oval at a time. I had my reasons– two of them to be exact. First, climbing was fun. Secondly, those eggs made a cool sound and a fun yellow and white splash as they hit the linoleum floor.

And much like the adorable toddler I must have been, the adorable over 50 woman I am now doesn’t enjoy being told no. Bratty? Perhaps. But more likely, unlike toddler me I believe I’ve earned the right to make good decisions, or bad ones, on my own. Dammit, I’ve lived more than 50 years; I’ve had several careers, I’m a mother and a grandmother, those experiences should be worth something in terms of respect for my choices.

In particular, if you are considerably younger than I am, you clearly have no clue what is appropriate for me. You think I’m old and you’re wrong. Older, yes. Old, not so much. (Not that there’s anything wrong with old!) Millennials should not be telling me what to wear. I’ve seen what you wear and it’s what I was wearing 20 years ago so I am clearly way ahead of you in fashion. As four-year-old me would’ve said, “You’re not the boss of me, Millennials.”

It’s not just fashion. Don’t tell me what’s good for my body when your body still has elasticity. About 20 years ago, a young doc told me I was 100% headed for knee replacement if I didn’t stop running. I explained my running was the pace most people walked and I only ran about three miles at a time so I doubted it was hurting me. He insisted he was right and I figured he spent about a million hours studying the body and must know whereof he spoke so I stopped. I felt like crap for about five years and figured, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead,” and started running again. Still running, about 4-5 miles a few times a week. No aches, no pains, and yes, still my original parts.

Food bloggers all appear to be about 30 and love to tell me what to eat. Eat kale! Fried foods are not your friend! Chocolate will kill you! Chocolate can save your life! (Okay that one might be true.) Don’t eat animals… unless they eat grass, then you can eat them… unless you have empathy, then you can’t eat them! And, yes, they all use a lot of exclamation points because everything they write matters!!!

Here’s the thing…I will, at this point, eat what I want and suffer the consequences. I’m just badass that way. I believe it’s stopping and stagnating that accelerates getting old. There’s a difference between aging and getting old. As long as we keep experiencing the world, keep trying new things, keep learning, we stay vibrant. We age but we don’t get old.

Poet Shel Silverstein had it right in his Listen to the Mustn’ts Piece, in which he advises not to pay attention to the shouldn’ts and instead embrace the concept of “anything can be.” At any age. As long as we believe “anything can be,” so can we.

Are there mustn’ts you choose to ignore? How’s that going for you?

Photo credit: CarbonNYC [in SF!] via VisualHunt / CC BY

Photo credit: CarbonNYC [in SF!] via VisualHunt / CC BY







For more of my rants musings on how life should be, please stop over at Grand Magazine!


15 Responses to “Listen to the Shouldn’ts? Hell to the No.

  • Oh my goodness I laughed because you nailed it. As I edged to 50 I’m more and more resembling that don’t tell me no toddler 🙂 I’m just I hope channeling the energy a little more positively?? Maybe not 🙂

    • Like you I’m aiming for positivity. Some days I get there! So glad I could add a laugh to your day! Thanks!

  • I’ve never been one for liking people telling me what to do. I like to do what I want to do. Every person is different. I will never go naturally grey. It’s not my color. And I think they’ll have to pry shorts out of my cold dead hands and if my legs can support it, why shouldn’t I wear mini skirts? I mean, not the ones that require two haircuts because my cellulite game is not where it needs to be but if I feel beautiful who cares what’s “proper”? You know what doesn’t make me feel good about myself, people telling me I’m limited by my age. Bump that.

    • I love every word you wrote! Bump that, indeed! (But seriously, your two haircuts phrase wins the Internet for today!) Thanks for this. I’m off to find your blog. I suspect I’m going to have a fun read!

  • I’m over 60. It gets worse. I ignore it all. ☺

    • Oh I know. Sometimes it makes me laugh, other times it irks me but I’m pretty good at simply not listening. Thanks for commenting. I appreciate it!

  • You are AWESOME! I love this. Put those millennials in their entitled place. How old is Winnie the Pooh? He says, just be! Oh bother.

    And, I do believe chocolate saves lives. Coffee too.


    • I love that you love this! And awesome may be my favorite word of the day. Winnie the Pooh is older than all of us. Hence why he’s so wise… Finally, you are so right about coffee. (which coincidentally combines beautifully with chocolate.)

  • This morning I put on a pair of shorts and decided my legs didn’t look so bad. Hell it’s hot in TX. LOL

  • This is fabulous!!! (see all those exclamation points???) You hit the nail on the head and I have to say that even though I’m 43…the don’t and shouldn’ts have already started. I like your way of thinking!

  • Yay for you Deb! And yay for being over 50, fabulous, and doing and wearing what the heck we want!!!! (How’s that for exclamation marks?) 🙂

  • Hi, Fab blog! I have just set up mine, but still in the very early stages – a few months old. Just making efforts to link in with fellow bloggers to improve our followers and get the word out there for us both. I would appreciate you having a peek at my blog, as I have published several posts. Feel free to like, comment, follow or just take a peek. Thank you 🙂

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