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. …

Separation from my son during the Covid-19 pandemic

One year ago, on a Saturday, I picked up my son George from the residential treatment center where he is living, and brought him home for the day. We drove through a Starbucks and got a tall Americano for me and a large ice water and two warm chocolate chip cookies for him. We listened to his favorite pop station for the 45 minute ride back to our house. A commercial came on and when I didn’t change stations fast enough, George tapped me on the shoulder. I pushed the 96.5FM button…

Surprising connections on the Zoom screen

Photo by Olena Sergienko on Unsplash

Are you worn down by the time you’re spending behind a screen? 11 months into the pandemic, I had been feeling the Zoom fatigue coming on strong…opportunities for concerts, classes, even comedy shows that I would have jumped online to watch last spring left me with blah.

Last week, something changed.

February is Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance & Inclusion month and in my work as a disability inclusion advocate, I have the opportunity to speak for different communities. …

A Mindfulness Teacher

My loyal Labrador Retriever Hank loved the snow; of course, his ancestors were bred to grab fishing nets in Canada’s icy waters. On snowy days, we’d clomp through the highest piles to a nearby fenced in lot where he could run, roll and leap, making our kids giggle endlessly. Hank was raised to be a companion dog for an autistic child and my son George won the puppy lottery, having Hank as cuddly friend for so many years.

It’s hard this winter, my first without Hank here, not to tear up a little when the snow falls, the memories of…

Inhaling and Exhaling my way to strength

Photo by Avrielle Suleiman on Unsplash

I was not an athletic child. I not only didn’t care about sports but from a young age, I largely lived in my imagination…which worked fine while sitting in a chair, staring out the window or lying on my back in the grass looking at the clouds.

I did join the girls’ softball league in my small Central Pennsylvania town…not because I thought I would enjoy it or be good at it, but because it was something to do during our unstructured summers. The coach was as friendly and encouraging as any coach you’d find in a 1980s show about…

On January 18th, my son George Chaim turned 18.

Leading up to the day, it was impossible for me not to go back and forth to memories of his birth — the bitter cold January day when I felt his kicking stop and we rushed to the hospital. Doctors saved George’s life as my placenta was dying. The first few hours that he was on the earth, it was his Dad who was with George in the NICU — standing by his incubator, praying and sending him our love — while I recovered from the emergency c-section in a daze.

Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer

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

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