26 June 2016

What a great support team looks like

A spontaneous group hug from The Littles—can you count all four heads?—took place at the train station in New Jersey after hanging out with the youngest of my support team members. (The Teens, of course, are way too cool to do group hugs. Not that either of them were even out of bed when this photo was taken, this being summer vacation.)


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Part of my support team


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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.


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The Grands


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16 June 2016

How to dare greatly

Granddaughter Lilly, a black belt in Mixed Martial Arts, recently competed in a Tiger Schulmann MMA tournament and captured two 3rd place finishes. On the way home, she FaceTimed and of course she was disappointed because she has some rather nice 1st-place hardware in her room at home.


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But by the time she and her dad stopped for lunch and she posted a photo to Instagram, here was her caption:

Win or lose, I left it all on the mats today.

I have a very wise 15-year-old granddaughter.

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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.


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Photo credit: Pixabay


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9 June 2016

The essentials for a cancer vacation

My first thought—as we were hugging good-bye and someone said, “Why didn’t we do this sooner?”—was that it took something like cancer to motivate us to plan this sibs-and-mom-in-law vacation.



Photo credit: Lonnie Johnson

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5 June 2016

Surprised by love

While trying to resolve some email issues, I stumbled across a side folder of random email from 2014. The humorous. The heart-warming. The heart-breaking. An unexpected gift. Seeing where I was two years ago as cancer was taking my husband from me, remembering who was there with me, how God infiltrated everything with His unimaginable peace.


View More: http://kristinalee.pass.us/garymarlys

In this photo, Hubby had just six weeks of life left (Photo: Kris Johnson)


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2 June 2016

How life is about not knowing

Gilda Radner, Saturday Night Live comedienne who died of ovarian cancer in 1989, had this to say about life:

Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it without knowing what’s going to happen next.

Six years after her death, a center to provide social and emotional support for cancer patients and caregivers opened in New York City. It was the first of several Gilda’s Clubs in honor of Ms. Radner — all with brilliant red doors.


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Photo credit: Panoramio


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30 May 2016

4 brave-making action steps

Sometimes when things hit hard and fast — like loss of health or financial security, loss of a home or a way of life, or loss of a loved one — there can be a tendency to wrap our lives tightly around us like a security blanket and stay put; a tendency to not venture out because venturing out doesn’t feel very safe any more.



Photo credit: Pixabay


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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.


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Deschutes River trail (Photo: Marlys Johnson)


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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


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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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