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


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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

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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)

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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

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4 November 2018

45 favorite November traditions

In The Sound of Music, Julie Andrews sang about some of her favorite things: things like, girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes, and snowflakes that stayed on her nose like eyelashes. But she forgot to mention anything about autumn, the best time of the year.


Photo by Tereza Hošková on Unsplash


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29 October 2018

How to cure wanderlust

Confession: The title of this blog is misleading. Because once you’ve been diagnosed with wanderlust—that strong desire or urge to travel and explore—there is no cure.


Photo: lovethispic.com


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18 October 2018

Why tenacity matters

My husband, Gary, was stubborn tenacious. Diagnosed with late-stage, slow-growing prostate cancer, there was a two-year life expectancy. But Gary stubbornly insisted on living ten years. Ten far-reaching, astonishing years.


Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash


I loved that I was married to a tenacious man.

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7 October 2018

How to move from Point A to Point B

There is this delightful notion from Douglas Pagels:

Some of the secret joys are not found by rushing from Point A to Point B, but by inventing some imaginary letters along the way.

Photo by Zac Ong on Unsplash

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30 September 2018

4 clever triggers for gratitude

Armed with a Chai tea and a map of the Fruit Loop, I rambled through beautiful farmland past vineyards and alpaca ranches and warted pumpkins with Mt. Hood standing guard in the near distance.


Photo: Marlys


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22 September 2018

How did you fall in love?

Today is my husband, Gary’s, birthday. It’s also our wedding anniversary. If cancer had not stolen him from me, we would be celebrating forty-five years of marriage.

In Fredrick Backman’s novella And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer, a young boy asks his grandfather a question about his grandmother: “How did you fall in love with her?”


Photo by Steve Halama on Unsplash


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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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