21 May 2017

10 ways to become infected with “helper’s high”

Did you know that giving and volunteering stimulate the reward center in the brain, releasing endorphins and creating what is known as helper’s high?

And like other highs, this one is also addictive.



Photo credit: Unsplash


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15 May 2017

Putting dreams on paper

I’m at a coffee shop—one of those fabulous local places where the high ceilings thrum with industrial pipes and funky lighting, and a large garage door is open to let in the mountain air—waiting for two of my creative team members.


Photo: Unsplash


Jim and Michelle are meeting me here to brainstorm over some needed changes to website, brand name, tagline, purpose. Who do I want to reach? What’s the best way to get there?

Which means, stay tuned for some exciting changes!

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9 May 2017

How spontaneous are you?

On a fine spring day this week, I had a hankering (what a great word, hankering … does anyone use that word anymore?) to trek back to the place where I scattered my husband’s ashes after he died of cancer, after he lived much much longer than the original prognosis: Ten preposterous brimming courageous years with late stage disease.


Broken Top standing guard over a frozen Todd Lake


Do you think there’s a difference between being spontaneous and being impulsive?

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30 April 2017

National Honesty Day: Can I just whine for a minute?

Today is National Honesty Day. Founded in the early 1990s by M. Hirsh Goldberg. Can I just be honest and whine for a minute?


Credit: Bill Watterson, Calvin & Hobbes creator 


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23 April 2017

Who are you traveling with?

A number of fellow travelers accompanied me through this week. And I’m pretty sure—based on the therapeutic sheer pleasure of hanging out with them—I’m much healthier than when the week began.

There was the cancer-kicking, wilderness-hiking posse at our season opener: Six gentle miles along the Metolius River.


Photo credit: Mike Gibson


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17 April 2017

Cancer diagnosis: 15 excellent answers to “What next?”

Back when my husband, Gary, and I first heard those epic unbalancing words: “You have cancer,” my thoughts went to, What next? Where do we go from here?


Photo credit: Unsplash


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14 April 2017

Where is Hubby when I need him?!

Last evening, the rain stopped; the Pacific waves were calm; and just before the sun went to bed, she gave one last brilliant show. All for my enjoyment while standing at the window of my cute tiny vacation rental.

Pacific view from my window


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10 April 2017

Brave-making ventures: Success and failure

It’s gorgeously stormy and gray out. I can hear the pound of the Pacific, even though this tiny quaint vacation rental with its hardwood floors and stone fireplace is shut up tightly against the rain.

My husband, Gary, and I loved coming to the Oregon coast. I haven’t been back since he died, but it’s been on my brave-making list. And so, here I am.

Hubby’s hairstyle designed by chemo


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2 April 2017

Celebrating a life well lived: Random thoughts

Family and friends gathered in Idaho this weekend to celebrate a life well lived: Mom-in-law Ivalene, who died of complications due to pancreatic cancer.


Jack and Ivalene Johnson, 1946


Since yesterday’s Celebration of Life service, a few random thoughts have been swirling in my brain:

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26 March 2017

43 highly effective self-care tips

Self-care was something I didn’t do well in the final months of my husband’s life. Because I could do it all myself. Because I didn’t want to bother other people. Because self-care sounds rather self-ish self-centered self-conscious.

But it’s not. Self-care is simply doing those things that help us take care of our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. So we can better care for others.


Photo credit: Unsplash


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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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