By Helena Rodriguez: PNT Staff Writer
By the title of her newest book, “Life is Delicious,” one wouldn’t know it, but area columnist and inspirational writer Joan Clayton has had her share of ‘dark days.’
“Raising three lively boys, I did go through some hard times. I wanted things to be perfect because I wasn’t perfect,” Clayton confessed.
“There was a time when I was in my 20s that I went through a deep depression and then growing up, I always felt inferior. I wasn’t happy. I didn’t know how to be,” Clayton said.
The author says that around the time she turned 40 God helped her realize there was nothing wrong. Since that time she’s realized she is happy and wants to share the feeling with others.
Clayton’s most recent book, “Life is Delicious,” her eighth title to pen, is like a 140-page instruction manual on how to be happy. It was published by PublishAmerica of Baltimore.
In addition to tips, Clayton shares many anecdotes from her 31 years of being an elementary school teacher and a mother. Her husband of 58 years, Emmitt, whom she met while attending Melrose High School, also worked in education for more than three decades and is a former Portales High School principal.
“Being happy in a world of unhappiness is like biting into a rotten apple,” Clayton said as she explained the title to her newest book. “The bad parts (of the apple) can be cut out but the flavor is still stale ‘Life is Delicious’ is like biting into a new shiny, crisp apple, while enjoying the flavor and joy of life.”
Clayton’s son, Lane, designed the cover to her book which features a large photo of an apple in the center, and in the lower corner, a silhouette of a woman holding up her arms as if embracing life.
Clayton says another sad day in her life was when she retired from teaching. She spent two years teaching in Texico, and 13 years at J.P. Steiner and 15 years at L.L. Brown elementaries in Portales.
“My husband said ‘You need to quit while they still like you,’” Clayton laughed.
Clayton began submitting articles to a magazine called “Happiness” and they started accepting her submissions. She soon became a regular contributor.
On the very day she retired from teaching in 1993, Clayton became a full-time writer. She went to introduce herself to the then Portales News-Tribune publisher, Lone’ Beasley, and easily convinced him to allow her to begin writing a weekly inspirational/religion page column which she has continued to write for the past 14 years. To date, Clayton’s inspirational writings — poems, short stories, columns and devotions — have been published in 75 different books and magazines and in church bulletins as well. Amongst the publications where her work can be found are “21st Century Christian” and “Psychology for Today.”
Some of the titles of Clayton’s other previously published books are “Give Us This Day,” “Cheer Through the Year,” “Teacher, We Love Your Class,” “Each Day is a Gift,” and “Obey Today, No Sorrow Tomorrow.”
Clayton was born in Capitan and then moved with her family to Texas as a young girl. They later moved to Melrose, where her parents owned a grocery store. She then moved with her family to Portales so she could attend Eastern New Mexico University.
Clayton calls a guest room in her home which doubles as an office her “Angel Room” and it is in this room where she now spends the better part of her days. She enjoys the peace and quiet of the room, although she said she oftentimes gets her inspirational ideas while lying in bed in the middle of the night.
“It is up to you to make life delicious. My book is about how to be happy in an unhappy world. There are so many things to be happy about,” she said. “It’s just too exciting to be alive and life is too short to not be happy… we can always count more blessings in our lives than problems.”