21 January 2019

Celebrating friendship in grief

January 15 marks the day when my friend Charity watched frantically, hysterically as her husband and three-year-old son were swept out to sea by a sneaker wave.

Every year, on the anniversary of the Worst Day Ever, Charity is determined to get as far above sea level as possible.


Photo of Charity (by Chylynn Barklow)
Continue Reading
13 January 2019

How the Porch Fairy broke PF rules

You remember the Porch Fairy who—when my husband, Gary, was dying in the hospital bed in our living room—left Chai tea for me and Americano coffee for my daughter on our front porch? Daily. For weeks. Even in snow and ice.


Photo: Marlys

Continue Reading
6 January 2019

Top Ten reasons to do road trips

After an early Christmas in New Jersey with kids and grands, and three snowy, Christmasy days in the forested village of SunRiver, I took to the road.



Photo: Marlys
Continue Reading
25 December 2018

Can we really be this brave?

Five years ago this month, I had head surgery. My husband—dealing with cancer and the side effects of wretched chemo—whisked me away to a resort village in the mountains with a tiny tree, a few lights, and a couple of gifts. It was a blissful, healing time.

We didn’t know it would be our last Christmas together.



Continue Reading
20 December 2018

Inconvenient love

It took a while to get here. And then there was the jet-lag thing. 

But love isn’t always easy. Or comfortable.

Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

Continue Reading

9 December 2018

8 gifts to give yourself this year

My daughter Summer married her college sweetheart in the month of December. Several years and six children later, Josh and Summer are still sweethearts. And the only way they can get away for a few days together is when a grandparent is present.

This is where I come in.


This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is rawpixel-445788-unsplash-1.jpg

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Continue Reading

1 December 2018

Tidings of comfort and joy? But what about my loss?

This is my favorite time of year. Nearby mountains cloaked in winter white. Gaggles of geese discussing where to winter. Breaking trail in snowshoes. Family and friends gathering and giving thanks and eating way too much pie and lighting candles and opening gifts and ringing in a New Year.

And yet, the holidays without a job, without our health, with missing loved ones just aren’t the same.


Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash


  Continue Reading

26 November 2018

A love letter

Dear Gary —

It’s been four years since you left this earth for a cancer-free, pain-free existence in heaven. You were concerned about leaving me, so you hung on longer than predicted.

I have a sneaking suspicion you now know that I’m doing well.


Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

  Continue Reading

17 November 2018

What is gift-blitzing?

My intent was to honor my husband on this anniversary of his Homegoing. And so I ordered dozens of pumpkin-flavored mini-cakes from Ida’s Cupcake Café.

Ida’s Cupcakes (all photos: Marlys)

Continue Reading

12 November 2018

7 surefire strategies for thriving in adversity

Mirriam-Webster says this about thrive:

Thrive: verb \ˈthrīv \ 3 : to progress toward or realize a goal despite or because of circumstances.

Thriving doesn’t mean we’ve put closure to something and we no longer allow ourselves to feel sadness or pain in our difficulties.

Rather, it’s taking our story and our memories and our hard places with us and stepping back into life while we still have breath.

Photo by Anton Darius | @theSollers on Unsplash

Continue Reading

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.

Read More