15 December 2019

Maintaining bonds with our deceased loved ones? Seriously?

It’s been five years since my husband Gary left this tilting, whirling globe for a cancer-free, no-pain, zero-stress life in heaven. 

My grief is long gone. In its place, there are movie reels of contagiously fun adventures that unfolded during the cancer years. In living color.


Hiking above Jenny Lake — Teton National Park, Wyoming
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10 December 2019

How to vanquish sumo wrestlers

Several dark mornings a week—during the final months of my husband’s life—I woke up with a rather large sumo wrestler standing over me, pulling my stomach into a tight knot of anxiety.

Worry over the thought of widowhood. Concern about our financial situation and how I could afford to stay in the small rental solely on my salary. 


Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash
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5 December 2019

4 things you need to know about staying connected

Daughter Summer, SIL Josh, and five of the six grands moved to Oregon from New Jersey last week. They were at my place for a few days before heading “over the hill and through the woods” to the other side of the Cascade Mountains.


All photos: Marlys
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24 November 2019

What if you counted all the ways you’re loved?

It was a sunny July—four months before my husband died. We were in a cozy vacation cabin with family. And I was adding to my gratitude journal.


Photo by Nicole Wilcox on Unsplash
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15 November 2019

Can we edit our life stories? How?

This quote from Susan Statham made me wonder: How does the editing work?

Your life is a story. Write well. Edit often.


Photo by MILKOVÍ on Unsplash
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11 November 2019

What do you know to be true?

An online article at The Grit + Grace Project caught my attention: “100 Truths for Every Strong Woman.”

(Before the men quit reading, you need to know that this piece is very honoring of your gender. Because you are valuable and important and worthy of our respect.)


Photo by Becca Tapert on Unsplash
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3 November 2019

How to be a difference-maker

It was Annie Dillard who said, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

Mick Black of Sisters, Oregon, is spending his life making a difference for the people in the Ngenge area of northern Uganda—as co-owner, CEO, importer, exporter, roaster, administrative assistant, and janitor of Kabum Coffee.

So how does owning a coffee company make a difference in the world?

Answer: When the business model is “entirely and wholeheartedly humanitarian-based” and any earnings, after expenses, go right back to the country.


Photo courtesy of Kabum Coffee
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27 October 2019

Do you doubt you can fly?

“Honey … we can do this!” I’d just read an article as a newlywed—back in the 70s—about Alaskan acreage being given to people who could build a home and settle on the land.

Homesteading. It sounded so romantic, so adventurous.

“So cold,” said my husband.


Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash
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20 October 2019

You need to read this if your life hasn’t gone as planned

When my husband Gary died of cancer, my kids encouraged me to take an early retirement. The plan was to temporarily move to my son Jeremy and daughter-in-law Denise’s place in Marina del Rey.


Photo: Marlys
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13 October 2019

How to create margin

Last week I was in Albany, Oregon with my daughter, Summer, who was house-hunting. We stopped into Margin Coffee in the old downtown area for hot beverages.


Photo: Margin Coffee website
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About Me

Hello, my name is Marlys Johnson. I’m a speaker, award-winning writer, cancer widow, and Chai tea snob. I love getting outdoors; would rather lace up hiking boots than go shopping. I have a passion for encouraging people to live well in the hard and holy moments of life. With heart wide open.

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