24 November 2017

An unexpected day of feasting

The organization is incredible. When volunteers check in, they’re given a name tag along with their volunteer assignment: Greeters, and seaters, and beverage pourers, and servers, and pumpkin pie embellishers.


All photos: Marlys


The cooks had been there since 4:00am and the clean-up crew would be there long into the afternoon.

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21 November 2017

5 benefits of gratitude

Back in May 2015, just six months after my husband, Gary, died of cancer, I was single grandma to three grandkids while Daughter Summer and SIL Josh were in Uganda in the process of doubling the number of their children.


Photo by Brigitte Tohm on Unsplash


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19 November 2017

Kicking off Thanksgiving week

It all started with the simple question from Godfrey, my middle-born Ugandan grandson: “What are we doing for Family Day?”

Which got his parents thinking and planning, which prompted a FaceTime call Friday afternoon: We’re at the park. Releasing balloons to Grandpa.  


Photo: Pixabay


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15 November 2017

What to do when the gifts are too generous

“Mom, people want to help,” admonished our daughter, Summer, visiting from New Jersey. “And they want to do it in meaningful ways.”


Photo by John-Mark Kuznietsov on Unsplash


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12 November 2017

How to manage fear when cancer shows up

For some people, the unknown carries anticipation. A job transition, for example, that could mean new opportunity, new friends, a new community, the excitement of pushing away from the dock and pursuing far-reaching, blustery adventures.

For others, the unknown causes anxiety. Leaving the safety of the familiar shore, being swept out into uncharted waters.


Photo by Daniel Delle Donne on Unsplash


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1 November 2017

November 2nd is “Plan Your Epitaph” Day

In case you need to know, tomorrow is “Plan Your Epitaph” Day — founded in 1995 as an opportunity to take control of our final words that will stand for as long as our gravestone stands.

Photo: Pixabay


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29 October 2017

What mismatched socks taught me about living

My husband, Gary, and I were back in Hospice House after breaking out for two weeks. Love found us there, because there is no hiding from love.

Visitors, food, chai tea in cheery red cups, gift baskets. And these groovy mismatched socks with the manufacturer’s tag that read, “Life’s too short to wear matching socks.”


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26 October 2017

Why we should embrace detours

If you had told me four years ago I would move from Oregon to my son and DIL’s apartment in Marina del Rey after my husband, Gary, died of cancer; and that I’d be navigating the southern California freeways like a local, I would have said, Not likely.


Photo: Pixabay


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22 October 2017

What I learned from my 21-day detox

When my husband, Gary, was diagnosed with cancer, we asked the professionals about diet and exercise. One doctor said, “That’s like closing the barn door after the horse has gotten out.” Well, thank you. That was helpful.


Photo: Pixabay


On our own initiative, we increased our fruit and veggie intake, eliminated unhealthful fats and sugars, and ate more whole grains and legumes. And then Gary died. And I quit cooking for myself.

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15 October 2017

8 health benefits from giving

Four years ago, as my husband’s cancer was ramping up, our friend Kattaryna texted from Alaska:Trying to figure out how to bring some Alaska to you and hubby. Any requests?

Gary asked for Baked Alaska, and I requested a live baby moose. We’re both easy to please.


Photo: Marlys Johnson


Apparently something got lost in the translation. Because we found this colorful, hand-crafted, moose-shaped garden ornament planted in a rather large and beautiful fall bouquet on our front porch. (Which, if you can’t have a live moose, is the next best thing.)

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About Me

Hello, my name is Marlys Johnson. I’m a cancer widow, author, speaker and blogger. I love getting outdoors; would rather lace up hiking boots than go shopping. I have a passion for repurposing old junk into cool new stuff. And an even greater passion for showing people how to navigate life’s challenges. Tenaciously. And with heart wide open.

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