Mind Matters: Gratitude, pass it on

Ever wonder how your life would have been different if you hadn’t made certain choices? What opportunities did you take or not take? Did you move away from family or never move beyond your neighborhood?

I’ve been mulling these questions over myself — sort of my post-Christmas/post-Holiday card reflection time of year. Old Christmas photo-cards of friends and family get unearthed with tangled Christmas lights. I wonder about the people with whom I’ve lost contact. How are they now? Where are they now? Admittedly, I have never been an organized holiday card sender. For 50 years I have wanted to have a tidy list of names and addresses along with a neat stack of cards to mail, pre-emptive of receiving the first card. That will never happen. It’s more likely that I will post a response to cards I do get in July.

No matter when or whether I send out cards, I do think about all the people in my life and wonder how they are — the friends, families, clients. Perhaps it is different when you’ve never moved very far from where you were born. Maybe then there is less questioning. I don’t know.

I did not stay rooted in my hometown. For 44 years my spouse and I lived in both the western and eastern ends of Pennsylvania. Now we are in Massachusetts, ironically back in the state where we began our lives together. All along our route, we met friends and neighbors who were important to us, who helped us and, hopefully, whom we helped.

Where would be without the other wayfarers who find us on this journey we call life? What I remember is the kindness and generosity of my neighbors and friends, no matter where we lived. One example is our frantic call at one in the morning for our neighbor to babysit our sleeping toddler daughter on Christmas because we were rushing to the pediatrician with our infant son, breathless with croup.

There are so many people in my past that I would love to see and say thank you, to hear about what they are doing and how life is for them. Maybe the only way I can show my gratitude for many of them now is to simply pay it forward, to pass on to the present and the future the kindnesses from the past. Is that how the circle is unbroken?

* Kayta Curzie Gajdos holds a doctorate in counseling psychology and is in private practice in Belmont, Massachusetts. She welcomes comments at MindMatters@DrGajdos.com or 610—388-2888. Past columns are posted to www.drgajdos.com. See book.quietwisdom-loudtimes.com for information about her book, Quiet Wisdom in Loud Times: The Rise of the Wounded Feminine.

** The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the ownership or management of Chadds Ford Live. We welcome opposing viewpoints. Readers may comment in the comments section or they may submit a Letter to the Editor to editor@chaddsfordlive.com

 

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About Kayta Gajdos

Dr. Kathleen Curzie Gajdos ("Kayta") is a licensed psychologist (Pennsylvania and Delaware) who has worked with individuals, couples, and families with a spectrum of problems. She has experience and training in the fields of alcohol and drug addictions, hypnosis, family therapy, Jungian theory, Gestalt therapy, EMDR, and bereavement. Dr. Gajdos developed a private practice in the Pittsburgh area, and was affiliated with the Family Therapy Institute of Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, having written numerous articles for the Family Therapy Newsletter there. She has published in the American Psychological Association Bulletin, the Family Psychologist, and in the Swedenborgian publications, Chrysalis and The Messenger. Dr. Gajdos has taught at the college level, most recently for West Chester University and Wilmington College, and has served as field faculty for Vermont College of Norwich University the Union Institute's Center for Distance Learning, Cincinnati, Ohio. She has also served as consulting psychologist to the Irene Stacy Community MH/MR Center in Western Pennsylvania where she supervised psychologists in training. Currently active in disaster relief, Dr. Gajdos serves with the American Red Cross and participated in Hurricane Katrina relief efforts as a member of teams from the Department of Health and Human Services' Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.Now living in Chadds Ford, in the Brandywine Valley of eastern Pennsylvania, Dr. Gajdos combines her private practice working with individuals, couples and families, with leading workshops on such topics as grief and healing, the impact of multigenerational grief and trauma shame, the shadow and self, Women Who Run with the Wolves, motherless daughters, and mediation and relaxation. Each year at Temenos Retreat Center in West Chester, PA she leads a griefs of birthing ritual for those who have suffered losses of procreation (abortions, miscarriages, infertility, etc.); she also holds yearly A Day of Re-Collection at Temenos.Dr. Gajdos holds Master's degrees in both philosophy and clinical psychology and received her Ph.D. in counseling at the University of Pittsburgh. Among her professional affiliations, she includes having been a founding member and board member of the C.G. Jung Educational Center of Pittsburgh, as well as being listed in Who's Who of American Women. Currently, she is a member of the American Psychological Association, The Pennsylvania Psychological Association, the Delaware Psychological Association, the American Family Therapy Academy, The Association for Death Education and Counseling, and the Delaware County Mental Health and Mental Retardation Board. Woven into her professional career are Dr. Gajdos' pursuits of dancing, singing, and writing poetry.

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