Peaceful…Through my daughter’s eyes…

I thought about this for a while.  There are some photos I’ll probably post later that are more related to my own view of this.  In the meantime, I kept coming back to the way my daughter expresses herself.

Since my daughter is not verbal, I don’t really know how she would define “peaceful.”  As I was considering this I began to think about the way she views the world.  Like many people with autism, she is compulsive about the way her belongings are ordered.  It’s important for everything to be in a particular place.  This makes her calm.  Perhaps you can say she’s at peace.

The front part of our house is her domain.  Even though she is a teenager, the space consists of stuffed animals, bins with lots of small toys, crayons, inflatables of all sizes and a brightly colored mat where she hangs out.


Her best pal is a giant stuffed gorilla named Nejo.  It’s short for conejo, rabbit in Spanish.  He got this name because he looks like the small gorilla my grandmother gave Mija.  My grandmother was in her nineties; her eyesight was failing.  She kept saying to give the conejo to the baby.  We finally realized she was talking about the little stuffed gorilla a volunteer in the nursing home gave her.

When Mija was smaller she would pounce against him, or lean against him when she watched TV.

At the moment Nejo lies on the floor with a toy on top of him.  We don’t know why the toy is there except that it makes Mija happy.  That’s what counts.  I wouldn’t dream of moving it.  For some reason this toy and Nejo belong together.

2012_January 011_nejo2

Mija orders the world in ways that don’t always make sense to me.  That’s okay.  It’s her world and it’s important that I learn to live in there with her.  Too often she is asked to live in ours.  That isn’t always easy for her.

When Nejo and all the other stuffed animals and toys are in their place my daughter is content.  She could spend hours “fixing” everything if so inclined.

The picture at the start of this post is one of the piles of stuffed animals that she arranges and rearranges until they are just so.  This set sits on the floor between the toy bins.  Across the room she also has inflatable beach balls and a pile of crayons that she doesn’t use too much any more…but don’t try to move them!  She enjoys the pile just where it is…

It’s her space, her world.  She put everything in it’s place the way she thinks it should be.

…and that is fine with us…it is the way it is meant to be.

2012_January 010


I've always enjoyed writing and finally decided it was time to blog! As part of my profession I write every day, but I'm now trying to take the time to write creatively. My family and friends have been very encouraging as there is little that is written down in the way of a family chronicle. This is a favorite topic of mine! In addition to family history, I write about life, family, friends and faith. My husband is a full-time parent to our special needs daughter. I’ve explored this topic, too. I also enjoy music, crocheting, reading and relaxing with my family. I hope you enjoy what I have to offer!

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Posted in 2012, Autism, Family, Peaceful, Personal, Special Needs, Uncategorized
30 comments on “Peaceful
  1. Ruth Bailey says:

    It takes a special person to parent a special needs child and accommodate her when understanding her is beyond one’s ability – kudos to you!

    • Cathy G says:

      Thank-you, Ruth. We have out ups and downs like everybody else. I’m fortunate to have a husband who’s a full-time parent. There is a lot of love in our little circle of the world. Our daughter is one great kid and we’re blessed to have her! 🙂

  2. cobbies69 says:

    having a daughter, even though now fifteen, has many of these fluffy toys…;)

  3. Jo Bryant says:

    What a fabulous post and what a terrific Mum you seem to be.

  4. Beautiful photos and words. : )

  5. To be a mother is the greatest adventure and the most noble occupation. I admire you for your unfailing love for Mija.
    My daughter is in College now in the US, and I miss her more than ever.

    My Peaceful photo is at my site, you are graciously invited to view it, too.

    • Cathy G says:

      Thank-you, Magdalene, for your lovely reply and for your support. I do have to say that my husband is an important part of all this. So much credit goes to him. Your daughter will always be close to your heart no matter how far away she is. That isn’t easy. I also went to your site to see your Peaceful photo – it is breathtaking!

  6. Madman says:

    How cute! Thanks for the share 🙂

  7. Isabella says:

    Mija is able to find her peace because of the generous, understanding and open hearts that surround her! Can you imagine if our leaders put as much energy into nurturing compassionate environments…respecting individuality and diversity…empowering the inner journey to peace? You’re an inspiration to all, Cathy!

    • Cathy G says:

      Thank-you, Isabella. I am humbled by your comment. Even though she has her challenges, I’ve learned that my daughter has a way of bringing a smile to others. p. s. I’ve been following your recent dialogues…very thought provoking and heartfelt. I’ve wanted to comment but so far I’ve been internally processing. God bless.

  8. Anon says:

    I’ve never been diagnosed with any form of Autism but I recognize a lot of very similar things I have in common with it. I probably would be diagnosed if it weren’t for the fact I talk a lot (due to fear) and love learning languages (and so want to ‘test’ my skills on others).

    That said, I ‘get’ the peace in this room. Oh man I get it. It’s inspiring and uplifting. And gentle movement. Your daughter’s inner world, is precious. I wish, oh so wish I had parents like you. Would you take in an online daughter of 30ish, an orphan from a terrible childhood? I wish somebody would, I’d love role-models, understanding parents.

    Thank you very much for your post. You have no idea how much it reached me. Your daughter has inspired me to go on another day.

    • Cathy G says:

      Hello Anon. I recognize that name. There was an occasion when I used it myself. Your reply, so surprising and honest, leaves me nearly speechless. Wow. Also, when I read this my impulse was to recognize my own humanity and my own shortcomings. My daughter is very precious. She has her good days and her not so good days. I know that the best gift I can give to her is my love. It’s at the base of who we are. I guarantee you she has taught me much.

      There is a saying that during tough times you should take one day at a time. There have been times when it’s shorter than that. You should take one moment at a time…one breath at a time. Every breath is important. Know this. Please. We all have to find a safe place within our own world, within ourselves. Part of the journey with my daughter is to know this and to continually learn this.

      It’s funny. I’ve been working on a couple of differnt posts…and I plan on posting them soon. Probaly tomorrow. Many of the comments to this post have touched me deeply. Yours definitely has. So much so that I will be posting more on this topic and the impact it’s made on me, even though I plan on finishing the other items that I started. …so much more to say…and I will.

      Bless you. Stay strong. One breath at a time.

  9. pix & kardz says:

    Aw, bless you, and your daughter too.
    Thank you for sharing these moments of peace.

  10. Ms. K says:

    Mija is a delight to others that understand her uniqueness. She does bring so much happiness to others that get her. One of the reasons she is so wonderful is because of her fantastic parents that always put her first despite their own wants and desires. Your family has sacrificed much for a great cause. Thank you for sharing her with me for those short years. I considered it an honor and privilege to get to know and love her. You all are in my thoughts and prayers always.

    • Cathy G says:

      Oh Ms. K, how I treasure this reply. When Mija went to high school we knew we would miss you and the aides who assisted you in the classroom. You know first hand about our adventures! We have always been appreciative for the support and caring you gave to her and the other kids in your classroom. I’m so glad we stay in touch. I’m happy to always let you know how our little family is doing. …and by the way…YOU ROCK!

  11. Gilly Gee says:

    Cathy for 5 years I keyworked a high functioning autistic woman (now 26) and gosh it was hard. I have total respect for your parenting and hope you get lots of support. Good luck 🙂

    • Cathy G says:

      Hello Gilly Gee. Like anyone, autistic individuals are all unique! My daughter is not high functioning. That being said she is a joy. She has her ups and downs, and so do we. My husband deserves much of the credit for making sure she gets where she needs to be, and gets what she needs. It does take a lot of support, and I’m grateful for all the educators and medical personnel who support us. As you indicate, working with autistic individuals can be challenging. It can make you evaluate your own perceptions…and sometimes you have to learn to adjust your expections depending on the situation! Thank-you very much for your thoughtful comment. 🙂

  12. […] month I wrote a post called Peaceful.  I was appreciative and humbled by the replies; one from “Anonymous” stayed with me.  I […]

  13. I love her pile of crayons with the octopus on top. It’s like he’s sheltering the baby crayons from the big, bad world.

  14. […] I wrote two posts about my special needs daughter that would set the context for this post:  Peaceful  and My Special Girl, the Pure of […]

  15. Kate Kresse says:

    Cathy: it is amazing, isn’t it? You and your husband could have been torn apart by your daughter’s special needs, or come together as a team. Because you came together as a team, you could lead your daughter in some ways, and she could lead you in others. You and your husband ARE your daughter’s ‘peaceful’. You and he give her room and safety to know that she can make the world that seems scary ever so much safer. I love the big gorilla. Who wouldn’t like to curl up with a big squishy stuffed animal? Love this post. ~ God’s blessings to you all today.

    • Cathy G says:

      Thanks so much, Kate! Your statement is very poignant as I know special needs children who are in single-parent homes. I’m sure this occurred for many reasons, including the strain that this can create. Yes, the big gorilla is a favorite! My husband has taken him to the dry cleaners a number of times where he has become a welcome guest! Thank-you for recognizing that special kids in many ways are just like anyone else. They need to feel safe, secure, comfy, loved, and peaceful!

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