They say if you got it, flaunt it, and Gwyneth Paltrow is doing just that in her new Instagram pic. The Iron Man actress shared a black-and-white photo of herself in a bikini, jumping for joy as she prepares to celebrate her 50th birthday later this month.
“Musings on a milestone,” Paltrow captioned the pic before directing followers to her Goop blog where she discussed how she files about marking the big birthday.
“I remember my mother’s 50th birthday very clearly. I suppose it was the first ‘big’ birthday I was able to celebrate with her as an adult. It was upstairs at Michael’s, an early LA food-scene star, a place both my parents loved. The dining room was filled with friends around round tables. The dinner was delicious, the good wine flowed. Everyone was asked to contribute a poem instead of a typical gift,” Paltrow recalled, sharing another bikini-clad pic, this time in color. “I remember uproarious laughter, happy tears. I remember my mother full of life and joy at the convergence of the love on display, the deliciousness, and wonderful/heartfelt/brilliant/messy poems.”
“The following November saw my father’s 50th and this was a different tenor altogether,” she continued. “We went to the island of Nevis, just the four of us. The weather was bad. It was grey and unseasonably cool. My father was gripped by something I could not articulate but I could feel. The membrane between us was porous, as we were so close. He said he was ‘fine,’ but I found him swallowed by something—he felt bereft, unanchored in some way. It was unsettling. He could not embrace the milestone, this marking of the passage of time. Perhaps on some level he knew it would be his last decade.”
Looking back on both of her mother and father’s 50th birthdays, Paltrow called them a “reckoning” but each for different reasons.
“For my mother, it was a culmination of the wonderous, the highs, the loves, the art,” she shared. “For my father, a culmination of sorrows.”
As she nears the big 5-0, Paltrow said she accepts not only the fact that she is getting older, but is reveling in life getting that much sweeter.
“On September 27, I’ll turn 50. As I sit here contemplating this idea in the late summer morning, no moisture in the air, breeze moving only the tops of the trees, I strangely have no sense of time passed. I am as connected to this feeling of longing, of promise—promise of the fall, of something ebbing—as I was 30 years ago. I understand on some level that life is linear, that I have lived x number of days thus far and I have more in the basket under my arm than I do in the field before me,” Paltrow mused. “But there is something about the sweetness of life that exists deep within me that is unchanged, that will not change. It is the essence of the essence. It seems to be getting sweeter.”
What’s more, is that while the Goop founder does all she can to “strive for good health and longevity,” she is accepting the parts of her that are changing with age, and letting go of “the need to be perfect.”
“My body, a map of the evidence of all the days, is less timeless. A collection of marks and irregularities that dog-ear the chapters. Scarred from oven burns, a finger smashed in a window long ago, the birth of a child. Silver hair and fine lines. The sun has left her celestial fingerprints all over me, as if she soaked a brush in dark-taupe watercolor, flecking it over my skin,” Paltrow described, writing somewhat of a love letter to her body.
She continued. “And while I do what I can to strive for good health and longevity, to stave off weakening muscles and receding bone, I have a mantra I insert into those reckless thoughts that try to derail me: I accept. I accept the marks and the loosening skin, the wrinkles. I accept my body and let go of the need to be perfect, look perfect, defy gravity, defy logic, defy humanity. I accept my humanity.”
Paltrow also looked back on her past, mistakes she’s made, and the things that sometimes keep her up at night. While she said she doesn’t believe in going back in time to correct mistakes is looking forward — now more than ever, she’s focusing on what she wants to do next.
“I would like to slow down. I would like to retreat a little bit. I would like to make my circle smaller. I would like to cook dinner more. I would like to see misunderstandings become understandings. I would like to continue to open the deepest part of myself to my husband, even though it scares me. I would like to sing more, even if it’s just in the shower,” she shared.
As she enters this new season, Paltrow said she also wanted to acknowledge her flaws, and apologize to anyone who has had a negative experience with her.
“I would like to tell anyone that had a negative experience with me that I am sorry. I would like to fully acknowledge myself. I am imperfect, I can shut down and turn to ice, I have no patience, I swear at other drivers, I don’t close my closet doors, I lie when I don’t want to hurt feelings,” she continued. “I am also generous and funny. I am smart and brave. I am a searcher, and I can bring you along on my quest for meaning. When I love you, you will feel it encompass you through time and space and till the end of the earth. I am all of it.”
Seeing the fabric of society and her own life change in the last 50 years is what excites her most as she marks this milestone is “living in the time of the spectrum.”
“What excites me is the feeling that we are living in the time of the spectrum. We seem to be embracing, like it or not, that life is not black and white. We are starting to be able to hold this idea of complexity, of grey area,” she explained. “We seem to be, in pockets anyway, embracing that what is unknown to us might not be threatening. That every human being has their own spectrums and colors and different proportions of light and dark. I want to hold myself in that understanding as I move through this (hopefully) next 50 years. Hold myself to a higher standard of compassion.”
Just like she looked back on the 50th birthdays of her mother and father, Paltrow said she imagines her two children, Apple 18, and Moses 16, who she shares with her ex, Chris Martin, looking back at their mom’s “big” birthday and seeing that she was neither elated or grieving, but feeling “all the things.”
“I think of my children, now old enough to remember this ‘big’ birthday of mine into their own adulthoods. Perhaps their memory of it will be neither that I was solely elated, nor grieving the things I lost or did not bring to fruition. I hope that they can feel me feel all the things and hold in the complexity of that notion. That they know I am both good through and through, yet sometimes not. That my feelings of regret and my mistakes can act as scaffolding for what I build from now on,” Paltrow said. “That they are the greatest accomplishment of my life. And that ‘this being human’ as the poet Rumi says, is a canvas that will be filled with the many colors of who they are, an abstraction that will continue to reveal itself. That knowing comes with time. That balancing the scales of acceptance and accountability is also an art.”
Concluding her preemptive birthday post, Paltrow acknowledged that she likely won’t know what it was like to turn 50 till much later, and that’s OK too.
“And that I really won’t know what it was like to turn 50 until much later, when I can reflect back from a higher perch, perhaps at one of their 50ths, hearts full and broken simultaneously (as that is life),” she added.