4 September 2015

Get rid of small-picture thinking

On my way to meeting up with friends, I noticed a new piece of art in the Old Mill District. Close up, it’s not exactly what you would call pretty.


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But take a step back and see what you see.


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29 August 2015

Why and how to believe for the impossible

Upon discovering that I left my heart in Bend, Oregon, I wrote this goal: “Relocate back.” The only [huge] problem is that affordable housing and Bend, Oregon aren’t synonymous.

Word gets around, though, and I am currently in a lovely guest house high on the side of a hill. With my own deck and sweeping views. For pennies. I know, impossible.


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25 August 2015

The September 22 challenge

By day, she is mild-mannered cancer survivor, wife, mom, grandma, hospital volunteer and frequenter of gyms for 6:30am work-outs.

But once she detects the slightest sign of distress in anyone, she dons her Porch Fairy cape—very similar to the Wonder Woman cape—and stealthily leaves all manner of comforting items on front porches. Stealthily. (Actually, I caught the Porch Fairy as she was driving up. Which was probably a good thing because my new home has no front porch. But as you can see, the rocks work quite nicely.)


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19 August 2015

Cancer care team … or top 5 ways to avoid looking like a tourist

It was a year ago this month that Hubby’s mom, siblings and spouses converged on central Oregon. We had never done a siblings-and-mom-in-law vacation together. Best cancer medicine for Hubby.

Jane Howard said this:

Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe … whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.


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Whether they realized it or not, the people in this clan were all a critical part of Hubby’s cancer team.

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16 August 2015

How not to prepare for a hike

Exactly a year ago, Hubby pushed me out the door to meet up with our cancer-kicking hike posse. It turned out to be a hard day. Because a critical component was missing.

From that experience, I had assumed that any future hikes on trails Hubby and I had conquered together would not be all that much fun. But I was wrong.


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 At the top of Green Lakes trail – August 15, 2015


There’s a major difference between hiking and leaving your beloved at home … and hiking because your beloved is no longer in the picture and he would want you to enjoy life.

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11 August 2015

7 … maybe 8 … ways to reduce stress

“You’re told you have cancer,” Hubby would say when we shared our story across the country. “You’re told you’re probably going to die of cancer. You worry about your family. You worry about keeping your job. Keeping your insurance. And then those big bills start coming in.”

After a pause, Hubby would continue in his deadpan way: “And then your doctor says, ‘You should probably reduce your stress.’”

Here is where the audience would erupt at the absurdity of the statement.


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8 August 2015

What’s the big deal about community?

If hiking boots are your first choice of footwear—and they are mine, right up there with going barefooted—then consider the dozens of incredibly amazing mountain trails near Bend, Oregon.

But that’s not the reason I want to move back.


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Hubby and me on Tam McArthur Rim, 1200 feet above the trailhead


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6 August 2015

8 ways to embrace adversity

There’s no getting around the fact that each of us is in one of three places: 1) in the middle of adversity; 2) coming out of a hard thing; or 3) about to head back into trouble.

Pretty encouraging stuff right there.

Since no one is exempt from adversity, the question becomes: What differentiates between those who flourish in difficulty — no matter how steep the trail — and those who struggle?


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2 August 2015

2 common misconceptions about grieving

I took an early retirement and moved away from Oregon when Hubby died. Because housing is expensive in this destination resort area. Because my monthly income was significantly reduced. Because Son Jeremy and DIL Denise offered free rent in SoCal.

I’m back in central Oregon. To take care of some pinched nerve pain. Only to discover that this place with its incredible people and so many fabulous memories feels like home.


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Bend, Oregon – August 2014

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 Bend, Oregon – August 2015


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29 July 2015

5 housing options for widows – because there’s no place like home

Not every widow needs to move from the home she shared with her husband. But what happens to the one who does? For financial, location or health reasons? Here are a handful of options based on downsizing and simpler living.

1. Tiny houses. You’ve hear of the Tiny House movement, right? The normal size of a Tiny House is 200-400 square feet. When you’ve downsized enough that all your earthly possessions fit in a 10-foot cargo trailer—that would be me—then 200-400 square feet is very doable. (See more photos at end of blog; I may or may not have gotten a little carried away.)

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tinyhouseswoon.com photo

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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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