25 May 2016

What you need to know about paying attention

In a week of walks along the Deschutes River, I snapped several photos (is it snapped if you’re using a cell phone? shouldn’t it be tapped?). Photos of young guitar player on large boulder; beautifully-choreographed fly fisherman’s cast; fallen tree growing its own lawn.

As many times as I’ve walked this portion of the river trail—hundreds of times—it seems there’s always something new to photograph. Like this rock sculpture.


IMG_8008 (1)

Deschutes River trail (Photo: Marlys Johnson)


Continue Reading

22 May 2016

How having cancer is like participating in an extreme sport

I have two crazy friends—well, I actually have more than two, but these particular two are married to each other—who decided to run a first-ever marathon (Jim) and take on Pole Pedal Paddle alone (Michelle) as a way of celebrating milestone birthdays this year.



Michelle, on the fifth leg of her race, pumped by her support team on the bridge


Continue Reading

18 May 2016

Prescription for depression

It hung around way too late in the day before I recognized this no-energy-no-interest-in-anything blahness. That’s when I got out my script pad and wrote a prescription for mild depression: Go take a hike. Near a body of water.



Tumalo Creek in Shevlin Park (Photo: Marlys Johnson)


Part of the cure requires that the patient stop somewhere along the path to contemplate all there is to be grateful for: in my case, sound of water rushing over rocks, warmth of sunshine, the ability to move on my own two legs, family and friends to love, family and friends who love me.

Continue Reading

15 May 2016

Nurses: The caregiver’s perspective

I remember the nurse — after the surgery where we learned the cancer had already spread — who brought blankets and pillows so I could sleep in the recliner next to Hubby’s hospital bed. Because I didn’t have the courage to go home and sleep alone in our bed that night.



Photo credit: Pixabay


Continue Reading

9 May 2016

4 thoughts on being alone – but happy – on this Mother’s Day

These words from a 2014 Mother’s Day blog post when Gary was still here to make Mother’s Day — and every other day of the world — extraordinarily special:

Hubby said those five magic words that made my heart beat more quickly: ‘Reservations at Kokanee Café at 5:30.’ (Or is that six words? Is 5:30 a word?)


1 a4c-metcafe


Continue Reading

4 May 2016

What have you been waiting a long time for?

Raise your hand if you’re patient by nature. (My hand isn’t raised either.) I’m the world’s worst waiter. It’s because I usually want what I want when I want it.



Photo credit: Pixabay


Continue Reading

1 May 2016

What cancer taught us about traveling lighter

What we didn’t realize during our *wilderness years* — that season of time from Hubby’s job loss through cancer — was this: The paring down and simplifying of our lives was for a larger purpose, for lighter travel over mountain trails and barren places.



Photo credit: Gary Johnson


Continue Reading

27 April 2016

What to do about a redirected path

Back in February, I wrote a blog about why you should tell your story. Today, April 27, happens to be National Tell A Story Day. But what if your story didn’t turn out the way you wanted?



Photo credit: Unsplash


Continue Reading

24 April 2016

An unsent love letter

Before Hubby and I were a couple, we wrote a years’ worth of letters back and forth between Denver and Europe. When I packed to return to America, I left his letters behind. Weight limits on luggage.

I would give anything to have those letters back.

Photo credit: Pixabay


Continue Reading

20 April 2016

How to make something of your everyday life

Pay attention to what doors are opening for you on this new journey that maybe you didn’t want to take but you’re there nevertheless and so why not make something beautiful and purposeful out of the loss and the sorrow — that journey.



Photo credit: Gary Johnson

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