18 December 2016

6 gifts to give yourself this holiday season

Christmas in New Jersey and I have the grands all to myself for a few days while The Parents meet up with The Aunt & Uncle in a place that involves sunglasses, fun T-shirts and odd-looking ears (hint: Orlando).


Photo credit: Unsplash


Continue Reading

24 November 2016

Top 14 arguments for why you are needed

This is a revisitation of a blog I posted a year ago during the holiday season, which — as you know — can be a no-tidings-of-great-joy time of year. Especially if you’ve lost something of infinite value.

Like your health. Or you’re dealing with the aftermath of cancer, or financial reversals.

Or you’ve lost that most perfect astonishing, believer-in-your-dreams, would-do-anything-for-you, would-go-anywhere-with-you person in your life.



Photo courtesy of Unsplash


Continue Reading

23 October 2016

You are missing from me

Dear Gary —

One of the tools from a widow grief class was letter-writing, beginning with these words: “My favorite memory of you is …” The problem with that: There are so many favorite memories of you. In fact, there are entire categories of memories.

Being the overly efficient person you married, here are some of my favorite memories. By category. And alphabetized. Just for the fun of it.



Dear Gary …


Continue Reading

22 September 2016

Top Ten things I miss about you

Tomorrow is the second wedding anniversary without Hubby, and there is still so much I miss about being married to him. So much.




Continue Reading

29 August 2016

Lessons on fifth-wheel-ishness

Chloe, one of my grand-dogs, is a Brussels Griffon. She doesn’t know what it means to be a fifth wheel because she assumes everyone wants to play with her.



Chloe, on left, teaching her lumbering friend, Noah, how to be a little more playful


Continue Reading

14 August 2016

So, um, this week’s date night

One of the things cancer did was motivate Hubby and me to establish a standing Friday night date. I’ve blogged about this in the past, and how — pathetically — I’ve maintained date night alone most Fridays since Hubby died.

This week’s date seemed more important to me. Perhaps because I’ve been out of town the last couple of Fridays, and I’m headed out again on Monday for a couple weeks.


IMG_8825 (1)

Deschutes River trail


And so I laced up my trekking shoes and headed to the Deschutes River trail. I can’t tell you how many times Hubby and I hiked along this river. Close to half a million times. Roughly. Give or take a few.

Continue Reading

21 July 2016

Sarah’s poem — I am still me

My young cancer-widowed friend, Sarah, let me read a couple of her poems recently. I was amazed. Beautiful stuff. She writes honestly and vulnerably as she wonders if she’ll ever find who she is again. And yet her work is hope-filled.



Jill Rosell Photography


Continue Reading

3 July 2016

How loving someone is like moving into a house

When I married Hubby, we didn’t know each other very well. We met one weekend, wrote for nearly a year—continents apart—and then on our first date, he proposed.

After that first date, I re-boarded a plane, and we planned a wedding long distance. Which meant all our dating and getting to know one another took place after we were husband and wife.


View More:

Photo credit: Simply Kristina Lee Photography


Continue Reading

19 June 2016

Father’s Day without Hubby

I’m somewhere in the U.S. with six grandkids, and I’ve shooed The Parents away for an out-of-town escape to recharge their batteries. Hint: It’s known as the Garden State and it’s clear on the other side of the world continent from my home in Oregon.


IMG_8353 (1)

The Grands


Continue Reading

12 June 2016

Letter to my newly-widowed self

Dear newly-widowed Marlys — I’m now 19 months into widowhood, and while there are quite possibly more things ahead to deal with, for the most part I’m feeling pretty seasoned.

You’re a newbie. And you’re overwhelmed. So for this moment, make a cup of Chai tea—knowing how much you and I love Chai—and put your feet up to read this letter. Remember to breathe.


door-550611_960_720 (1)

Photo credit: Pixabay


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