Dirt, weeds and deep roots to my ancestors

Working in my garden, dirt underneath my fingernails, I think of my grandmothers:

Grandma Bea, tending to her tomatoes on her little patch of grass two street blocks inland from the ocean in the 90 degree heat while my friends and I lay on the beach. On our return, sated with sun and salt, she would greet us from her garden, finding the ripest tomatoes to slice for salad for our dinner.

Grandma Min, designing her lush Pennsylvania lawn to pop with color, flowering bulbs, flowering bushes, flowering trees that put on a show for us when we sat on…


The category is: Moments of beauty

I turn 50 in early June and one of the ways that I’m showing appreciation for reaching this age is by capturing some of the things that have moved and inspired me through each month in the coming year. While I more naturally focus attention on negative news and all that’s broken in the world, I’ve learned that the practice of noticing, savoring, paying attention to all that’s making my soul stir is an essential part of healing and growth.

Presenting my list for May…curious if something on the list resonates with you or what kinds of moments of beauty…


Even with the world re-opening, I’m committed to these writing practices

Photo by Yannick Pulver on Unsplash

Every week since I’ve had the fortune to receive the Covid-19 vaccine feels like a new beginning whether it’s the ease of meeting a friend at a cafe for coffee, dining in a restaurant for the first time in fourteen months or making plans to see my (also vaccinated) extended family who live in other states, I’m grateful for my health and this unique moment to reconnect with people and places I’ve missed during the pandemic.

But as the world opens up to us again, I am also conscious of the ways that I’ve made choices during the pandemic that…


Fourteen months ago, in mid-March 2020, I shared my perspective on the burgeoning pandemic as a mom who is a cancer survivor living with chronic illness and parenting a teen with autism and an intellectual disability. While I was writing that essay, other parents in my community were raging about schools closing down, shaming people on social media for falling for the coronavirus “hype.”

Because of my family’s needs, I took the virus very seriously from the start. Rereading my words from last year, I am filled with gratitude that my family has been able to stay safe from Covid-and…


A tribute to the matriarchs who taught me how not to get pregnant

This is my first Mother’s Day without my Mom here in her physical form. I do not feel deeper in my grief today than I might on any given one since she died unexpectedly last September. My mom, Lynn, was smart, funny, kind and beautiful; sparkly, brave and forgiving. Sometimes we were deeply connected, other times, we weren’t. Lynn thought Mother’s Day was all Hallmark and didn’t take it seriously but as a kid, I still made her cards, coupons and attempts at breakfast nonetheless. …


a letter to my 6th grade science teacher for Earth Day 2021

It’s a special day in my sixth grade science class — Mr. H got a film strip. That means instead of sitting at our desks, reading from the textbook about rocks and minerals, we get to pull our chairs into rows and drop notes on the floor to pass them with our shoes while Mr. H takes on the always exasperating task of threading the film into the projector.

Mr.H is a nice teacher; he rarely yells. He will retire soon. He tells us stories about his kids growing up and shows us pictures of his grandkids. If you raise…


Stepping back into the world, post-vaccine

Four years ago on Easter Sunday, my daughter and I took a Boltbus from 30th Street in Philly where we live to New York City to meet our friend Steph for lunch and an afternoon at MOMA. Neither Steph nor I had registered that we’d be walking right into the Easter parade en route to the museum. …


Grieving a dog, grasping the eternal

One day when my yellow lab Hank was alive and we walked through the gate of a favorite dog park, a woman maybe twenty years older than me turned to look at me, clutching her cup of coffee in both hands. I anticipated usual dog park greetings — ‘What’s his name?’ ‘How old’s your dog?’ or ‘What a beautiful boy!’

Instead the woman looked in my eyes. “I hate to see you the day he dies,” she said.

It was a strangely intimate thing to say, but maybe only something you could say to a stranger.

It took me off…


A Covid-19 vaccine pilgrimage

Odin, my backseat travel companion

In mid-January, I signed up for the Covid-19 vaccine waiting list in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, where I live and felt hopeful. My chronic health conditions put me in the 1b category.

Two weeks later, the categories were updated and I became eligible in 1A, the group of people who were currently being vaccinated.

I went back to my county registration but the system wouldn’t let me update it. …


Claiming space to be unproductive

Photo by Andrew Seaman on Unsplash

Last night, there was an online workshop that I wanted to attend at 7:30pm. I’m generally a morning person and start my day around 6am. One cup of coffee in, my thinking is most clear; this is usually the time of day when I write.

I pace my energy through the day — some work days are naturally busier than others with deadline-oriented tasks and meetings. …

Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer

Recovering perfectionist seeking spiritual growth. Writer, Educator, Mom. Disability advocate. Dog Lover. www.gabriellekaplanmayer.com

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