I am living proof, reading books can change your life. Without books, I would still be living in an abusive and repressive society.

As an abused teenager a few teachers stepped up and helped me out. This was before the days when spanking was verboten. (Trust me, spare the rod, spoil the child is a stupid and debilitating method of child-rearing.) These teachers save my life and paved the way for me to live in a real way–from the inside out!

The first book that changed my life: HIGH BRIGHT BUGGY WHEELS–no a literary world success but a book that showed me a path out of the regressive religious environment my father created and tried to force down my throat–literally.

Then came Agatha Christie, Mary Stewart, Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, William Shakespeare, Willa Cather, Abigail Adams, Louisa May Alcott, Margaret Atwood. By the time I met David Clemens, I was a reading maniac. In 1971 David and I bought THE HOBBIT and THE LORD OF THE RINGS and my world view shifted–I was pregnant and knew in my soul it would be a daughter. It took six readings of THE LORD OF THE RINGS for us to agree on the name Lorien.

My reading life expanded and by the time Lorien was fifteen Joseph Campbell was helping my soul to heal and propelled me to be the woman I am today.

Life is a journey and we each MUST live our lives through OUR self-created journey. Books can make a difference in the choices you make and the realities you embrace.

Now that I’m an author I have the blessed honor to speak from my source the magic of life.

If I could recommend just one thing to humanity to make a difference it would be READ! Daily! Everything you can get your hands on.


Here is another author’s thoughts on reading: This Question Will Change Your (Reading) Life


Originally published, December 31, 2017, on Cracked Nirvana.


In And Out Of Africa
Painting by Jane Garrison, 2014
Photo by Glenda Clemens, 2017


“Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses.
Focus on your character, not your reputation.
Focus on your blessings, not your misfortunes.”
Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

For the past few years, I’ve been a member of the  Greater Issaquah Toastmasters Club.  It has been a great experience, filled with many blessings,  in spite of the 30-45 minute drive which seems longer in the darkness of winter. It has been worth every minute of time I have spent with this marvelous group even if I whine about going to the meetings!  One of the members who has become a great friend and mentor is Jane Garrison. She is an artist, master gardener, and an incredible person. About two weeks ago, she gave a speech about this painting and what it meant to her. It was inspiring to say the least BUT she surprised each of us at the meeting with a gift. The gift was a holiday card she made for each of us with this painting on the cover and her speech on the back. With her permission, I’m posting not only a photo of the painting but her speech.


“When we lose one blessing,
another is often
most unexpectedly
given in its place.”
C.S. Lewis

Without further ado, Jane’s speech:


You probably look at this painting and
wonder how I could be so naive, such a
suburban, American point of view.

I painted it a couple of years ago during
the Boko Haram crisis.

At that time a man from Africa spoke at our local
Rotary club. He had been on of the “Lost Boys”. His story was so terrible that I didn’t want to bury it.

I wanted to remember it and all its terror from
both human and wildlife threats.

I wanted to remember, so that I could appreciate my situation and be thankful every day, even though it seems rather tedious at times.

Here’s to our good fortune in this country.

Happy Holidays!
Let’s enjoy the season,
appreciate what we have
and remember how lucky we are.
—-Jane Garrison


My wish for you and for me is that we always remember how incredibly lucky we are and that we care deeply about all of those around us whether family, friends or those far away people we have never met. Many blessings to each of you and may your days be filled with light no matter how cracked!



“You have to participate relentlessly
in the manifestation of your own blessings.”
Elizabeth Gilbert

originally published on Cracked Nirvana, March 25, 2018.




“You are the sky.
Everything else –
it’s just the weather.”
Pema Chödrön

I love living in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. I live in a rain forest beside a river in the Cascade foothills. My life is filled with lush greens and rich browns every day of the year. The only downside to where I live is that from November through March the weather is cloudy, rainy, snowy and dreary. I know this is necessary to create the beauty around me but about this time every year, I’ve had enough.


“Trees are poems
that the earth writes upon the sky.”
Kahlil Gibran, Sand and Foam

Oh, yes they are Mr. Gibran! I know that. But must they require such an abundance of water? It seems so and mostly I do not mind but today the sun is shining through my window and there are broad swaths of blue sky with puffy white clouds. I feel rescued and blessed.


“Some people are
so much sunshine
to the square inch.”
Walt Whitman

Yes, Walt, they are! I love being around sunny people and love the sunshine breaking through after dreary weather. It brings with it a feeling of hope and new beginnings which of course is what spring does every year. After the long dreary winter, I feel compelled to clean and clear out my house and make way for the brightness of the sun shining through my window. However, not so compelled that I actually do it.


“The deep roots
never doubt spring will come.”
Marty Rubin

I am amazed by the stalwart hanging on to life that the trees and plants around me exhibit. Here the grass is green all winter and many of the trees and shrubs too keep their green. The flowers fade away and appear to die only to push their green stems and leaves through the cold ground and burst through with vibrant color. A few days ago I looked with delight on the brilliant yellow daffodils only to see them covered with snow the next day. It made me so sad that such beauty had been covered over and pushed aside. Today they have raised their beautiful heads and brighten my world again in the sunshine.


I talked to the baby when he was in Mommy’s belly. He would kick and I would giggle. “Hello, Baby!” 

One day I sang, “Twinkle, twinkle, little star. Come and show me who you are.” Mommy laughed and Baby kicked. 

Day after day, I waited for him. Mommy said, “You don’t know if the baby is a brother or sister.”

I smiled. Mommy didn’t know everything then but I knew. “He is wanting to come see me. That’s why he kicks so much.”

Mommy smiled. “We’ll see.”

One day we did see. Mommy said, “It’s too soon.” She cried as Daddy helped her into the car and Grammy stayed home with me.

I wanted to go with Mommy but Grammy said, “No, your mommy and daddy will bring the baby home.” But she cried.

I was scared. When grown-ups cry it means nothing good is happening. I talked to the baby and he could hear me even though he was in Mommy’s belly far away. Grammy said they were at the hospital. I don’t know how far away it was but it must be far. I could barely hear the baby.

A long time later that night, Grammy tucked me in bed and said, “Your daddy called and your Mommy is doing well.”

“And the baby,” I asked. “Is he okay?”

“As well as can be expected.”

“What is expected?”

Grammy kissed me and said, “It’s the way things are. The doctor said we will know tomorrow. The sooner you go to sleep the sooner tomorrow will be here.”

Tomorrow came and still no baby. Then another day and another for many days. Finally one day, Grammy said, “Your Mommy, Daddy and your baby brother are coming home.”

I sat on the front porch waiting for my brother to come home. It was hours and hours before I saw Daddy’s blue and white car turn the corner onto our street. I hollered, “Grammy they are coming! They are coming!”

Grammy came out to the front porch, wiping her hands on her big white apron. She was smiling but had a funny look on her face. She put her hand on my shoulder. “He’s going to be so tiny you won’t believe it, Amy. You’ll have to be gentle and careful.”

I wanted to race to the car but Grammy held me back. “Just wait.”

I was tired of waiting. I’d waited forever!


Finally when Mommy and Daddy got out of the car and we all went inside, and Mommy sat in the rocking chair and Daddy fussed about me not getting too close to the baby and Grammy saying, “let her alone,” and Mommy smiling saying, “It’s fine. Come here Amy and see your brother Bobby.”

Whew! What a relief it was to see him. Mommy said I couldn’t hold him yet because he was too little but I could talk to him and hold his hand. I touched his hand and he grabbed my finger. I smiled and said, “Hi, Bobby. I’m so glad you finally came home.”

He looked at me with big round eyes and didn’t say anything. I said, “Why isn’t he talking?”

Mommy said, “He’s too little.”

I was confused, Bobby and I had been talking for a long, long time. Then his voice in my head said, “I’m here.”

I smiled and said, “I love you, Bobby.”

His voice in my head said, “I love you too.”

I watched amazed as Mommy unbuttoned her blouse and opened her bra. She had such big tits and Bobby wanted them in his mouth! “What are you doing?” I asked Mommy.

She smiled, “I’m feeding Bobby.”

I didn’t understand why she didn’t just give him some gravy and biscuits if he was hungry. Grammy said, “Mommy’s always feed their babies this way. It’s just until he is big enough to eat the food you eat.”

I nodded and pretended to understand.


Over time, Bobby began to get bigger. The bigger he got the more he cried. Mommy would sometimes cry too. But I could talk to Bobby and he would be quiet. Sometimes he told my head, “my tummy hurts” and sometimes he told my head, “my bottom hurts” and sometimes he cried and cried and didn’t say anything in my head. But, when I talked with him and held his hand he said he felt better.


It seemed like forever before he grew up enough to walk and talk out loud and not just in my head. By the time I went to first grade school, he was running and playing and shouting all the time. He liked to climb trees just like I did and we told each other stories we made up in our heads. 

Mommy’s belly got big again and in a lot of days and weeks, she and Daddy came home with another baby sister. I had not been talking with her and she didn’t want much to do with me. I went to school and learned to read stories not just tell them.

As night I would read my storybooks to Bobby. One night he said, “Someday I’ll read stories too.”

I nodded, “Yes you will. Someday I’ll write stories.”

He laughed. “Maybe I’ll read your stories.”

At night, we laid in our beds talking quietly. Bobby wanted to hear more stories and I made up stories and told them to him until he went to sleep. 


Now, Bobby is grown and so am I. He doesn’t want to hear my stories anymore. He doesn’t want to talk with anyone we used to love. He grew up and hated Daddy and said Mommy wasn’t right in the mind.

Maybe. But maybe she was quiet because saying too much is a way to be hurt.

Bobby went his way without me. He said, “You don’t have anything to say I want to hear any more.”


Now, who will listen to my voice?