A reflection practice about what to hold, what to release

Sunset reflection in Ithaca, NY. Courtesy of the author

September, with the return of the school year, always feels more to me like the start of the New Year than January 1st. The turning from what seemed like endless summer days, the fireflies and kickball games of my childhood to the time for buying pencils, notebooks and new shoes, signaling the start of a new school year, rests deep in my core. In the Jewish tradition, our new year holiday of Rosh HaShanah generally falls in September — this year it begins on the evening before Labor Day itself. On Rosh HaShanah, we celebrate by eating sweet foods like…


With so many of us Americans back on the road this summer, friends and I started talking about the family road trips we took when we were kids. My mom did not like flying, so everywhere we traveled as a family was in a classic wood-paneled Pontiac station wagon or later a giant white Buick LeSabre that we dubbed “The Tank.”

I grew up in a small town in central Pennsylvania but our extended family lived far and wide. Our road trips took us to and from Chicago, Toronto, and the Jersey Shore and sometimes tourist destinations like Washington, D.C…


The category is: Healing

I turned 50 this month and also celebrated my 20th wedding anniversary. Both occasions called up deep gratitude for my life, my partnership, and new opportunities for growth and adventure. One of the ways that I’m showing appreciation for reaching this age is by capturing 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.


Stepping into an outdoor, vaccinated Bat Mitzvah

Photo by Cosmic Timetraveler on Unsplash

A few Saturdays ago, my daughter and I sat in the front row of chairs set up outdoors in a beautifully landscaped historic garden here in Philadelphia and listened, in real time, as our friend’s daughter chanted from the Torah, the ancient Hebrew scroll of wisdom, becoming a Bat Mitzvah. Her voice called out that sunny morning with strength and clarity, offering the Torah’s mystical sounds to the wind, the birds, the bees…and to all of us gathered with her. …


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…

Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer

Writer, Educator, Mom. Disability advocate. Dog Lover. Teaching online workshops at the intersection of writing + spiritual growth. www.gabriellekaplanmayer.com

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