Turning 51

Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer
3 min readJun 7, 2022
Roses made by my teenager for my birthday!

I am happy to turn 51.

I am happy for every wrinkle that greets me in the mirror, for the way the skin on my neck has changed, the signs of my aging.

I have survived cancer. I have also learned to live with a chronic illness (Type 1 diabetes) since age ten that demands ongoing diligence. Both of these experiences have taken a toll on me and have also opened doorways to places in my soul: deep places; shadows; the wild river of potential; unruly dreams; callings from my ancestors; a dark and zesty humor; a yearning I think of as love. Energies I’ve held, maybe for centuries, maybe from this walk on the planet.

I recently heard storyteller Sheri D. Kling describe a brush with mortality as being in ‘a fast cab for Hades.’

When I took that ride, when I’ve been the passenger in that fast cab heading for Hades, my prayer was pure and immediate. A prayer for my life. To have the chance to parent my children. The promise I made to my spirit in that cab: I will listen. I will go deeper to know you, day by day.

I am happy to be here. To be 51. Every day is a birth day.

My prayers are less intense now; they grow and stretch to encompass my breathing. My prayers are my digging in the garden, the kind word I share with the cashier, the vibes I send a friend who is struggling.

Here is a prayer I offer for this day:

I am grateful to wake up in the morning and stretch. To recall my dreams and scribble them in a journal.

I am grateful to hear the birds who sing in the trees out my window.

I am grateful to those trees.

I am grateful when I take my first pee. I am grateful for the toilet I flush.

I am grateful for my dog who follows me downstairs at 5:45am.

I am grateful when we walk, when we return and I make my first coffee.

I am grateful to open my computer and start writing and find all of these words that surprise me, demanding to come live on the page.

I am grateful for the humans I love deeply who arrive downstairs at some hour later and make breakfast and get ready for the day. I am grateful for many other humans who do not live in my home but who are my people…

Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer

Writer, Educator, Mom. Disability advocate. Dog Lover. Teaching online workshops on writing + spiritual growth. www.gabriellekaplanmayer.com