Should disagreeable conditions defer our plans?

Back when my husband, Gary, was living well with late-stage prostate cancer, we joined a cancer-kicking hike/ snowshoe group. As a result, I have movies in living color of so many burbling, adventurous, life-affirming treks in the Cascades near our home in central Oregon.

After Gary died, the strangest thing happened: All the teams, posses, crews of people who supported us through ten years of cancer and caregiving suddenly morphed into widow support groups.

Earlier this week, I joined up with two of my cancer-kicking (widow support) friends, Mike and Bina, and snow-shoed from Mt. Bachelor out to Todd Lake. A cold and gray-shrouded trek.


Looking out across a frozen Todd Lake (Photo: Mike Gibson)


Had I planned to snowshoe on my own, I probably would have canceled — because it was raining in town, which most likely meant wet snow and poor visibility in the mountains.

Sure enough, a moist, drenching snow fell most of the way out to Todd Lake. And on the return trek, the wind blew freight-train strong through the tall trees, dropping snow bombs on our heads. It was so cold that when we removed our gloves to grab a snack or shoot a photo, it was difficult getting them back on.


Photo: Mike Gibson


Earlier this month, I hiked at Smith Rock. Another damp, foggy hike. It was so cold that I ate my lunch on the drive home. And, as everyone knows, a picnic lunch on a highway isn’t the same as a picnic lunch outdoors overlooking glorious nature.

And then yesterday morning, as I was layering up to hike along the Deschutes River trail, I thought about how much warmer and comfortabler a coffee shop would be and why don’t I just go there instead and finish up a major writing project I’ve been working on?


Return route on the Deschutes River trail


At first glance, one might assess that the treks at Smith Rock, to Todd Lake, and along the Deschutes River were less than successful.

Or were they?

I’ve been thinking how it takes a bit of pluck and tenacity to get off the couch in less-than-desirable circumstances and endeavor to conquer something in nature, or something in ourselves — like, the fear, discouragement, self-pity, hopelessness, depression that can come from a cancer diagnosis or any other devastating news.

I’m reading a book by Chip Gaines of HGTV “Fixer Upper” fame, entitled Capital Gaines. A natural entrepreneur and risk-taker, he writes:

It’s never too late in your story to take a step away from fear. And the good news is that both optimism and courage are contagious. No hand washing necessary. Simply catch and spread.

I heard no complaints from Mike or Bina on the snowshoe trail. In fact, each of us commented, at one time or another, how much fun this challenging trek was, and how good we felt after conquering it.

Yes, optimism and courage are contagious.

Sitting in warm, comfortable spaces is necessary for doing the paperwork of chasing down our dreams. We need to complete the projects, and hand in our homework, and fill out applications, and meet deadlines, and write business plans, and balance our bank accounts.

And then there are the days we need to stoke up our audacity to step into less-than-desirable spaces — even if it entails rejection letters, or the risk of a failed business, or denied scholarships, or snow bombs falling from tall trees.

Which begs the question: What uncomfortable, brave, gallant thing could you endeavor this week, this month, this year? 


Meet Charity, world changer


How to know everything there is to know


  1. Kim

    You go girl !!

    Marlys, you are such an inspiration.

    I’m thinking about, ‘What uncomfortable, brave, gallant things
    I will, can, should endeavor this week, this month, this year’!

    Thanks, for helping us get off the couch and out the door even when
    health issues prevent us from doing much, especially outside the home.

    Thanks, for being such a blessing!

  2. Kathi Denton

    Marlys – Your writing always seems to inspire me, to egg me on, to prod me to go after the things I am thinking about. You are so wise and hit the mark so many times for me. Need to pick your brain for where to begin one of these days. Have a very basic plan but not sure where to begin…. Let me know if you are planning a trip this way, or I may just have to make a trip to Bend soon. Either way, I need to pick your brain…. Love you my sweet friend.

    • Kathi, I’ll be in Idaho sometime this year (another niece getting married) … but come to Bend! I’d love to hear your ideas and brainstorm with you!

  3. So true — optimism and courage are contagious just as the opposites are!

  4. Peter Howe B.E.M.

    Reading your blog, it took me to ‘that one day’. That day was not really MY day, it was on the 1,000 mile cycle challenge in May, 2016 which I was part of (cycling End to End of our country). Around 11am on this day in early May the conditions (i.e. rain storm, almost horizontally strong cross winds) got worse and worse. The rain turned to sleet and the route was on relatively busy main roads. The team of 4 who were on the road, stopped for refreshments and to put on better waterproofs AND LIGHTING (front and back of each bike). Being probably, the elder and more experienced rider I asked the whole group, ‘should we stop and see if the conditions improve’, there was a total vote of ‘NO, LET’S PUSH ON’. I therefore knew that it was important to impose some caring authority to give the advice needed so ‘I put my teachers/advice hat on’. I got the group together in the back up vehicle and got them to seriously and carefully take in the advice I could give. I won’t cover the detailed advice here but I the whole group were really concerned about the ‘conditions out there on the road’. I did mention the ‘chain gang distance each rider should give, between each rider (i.e. between the back wheel of the rider in front and your front wheel), for safety reasons, for those on the road to continually communicate between each other and be conscious of the others concentration, to not take anything for granted etc. The 4 riders (being new to long distance cycling) showed some apprehension, one decided he aught to let someone else take his place. I took that place and I have to say, ‘I’m so pleased that I did’. I say this because I knew in my heart I would feel more apprehension, concerning my/ourselves for those on the road, than being out there myself with them. Before we (the 4 riders set out) all of the whole group held prayers and the 4 of us ‘ventured on. The conditions were the worst I had ever experienced in my 76yrs BUT somehow the purpose/reason for the challenge (to raise funds for homeless children through a Christian mission out in Kenya & Uganda) gave the 4 of us the determination to ‘see it through’. 2 hours later and roughly 50 miles of ‘hellish conditions’, the skies cleared and God sent his Sun to shine, warm and dry us out. At the end of that day’s 150 mile leg, we thanked God for His caring hand and I believe the music gig that night was full of ‘rejoicing’. I do know that the memory of that part of the day will linger long in each of our minds, we thank God. Thank you for allowing me/us to share. God Bless, Peter & team.

  5. Tracey

    Well, I’ve taken some courageous moves this month, and I’m so inspired and happy. I had to press through a lot of fears to say yes. I am going to get my Masters in Counseling beginning next September, I join the worship team singing and playing the guitar, I’m taking care of my friend’s Arabian mare, I bought a digital illustration program so I can finish my own children’s book, I started a business selling ASEA, which has given me so much energy and healing in my body(let me know if anyone is interested.), and I’m a chaplain at the hospital, I am putting on a James Jordan conference with my small group. Oh my, I didn’t realize how much new things I am doing. The Lord gently reassured me not to fear the magnitude of things He has called me to. He said, “Don’t worry. You are not in charge. The burden is not on your shoulders. It’s a river. Go with the flow of My love. I am overflowing with His love in all these areas. And yes, I need His courage to keep saying, “Yes,” to what He brings my way. I know this is Him because for many decades I tried to open doors for myself. For many decades I spent home schooling my seven children and now He is showering me with His love and direction. I used to say, “If God ever opens up doors for me I will know it is Him, because every door I tried to open stayed shut.” I can trust Him with this. Bless you Marylys. I probably should have just emailed this and not put it on your blog. I love you.

  6. Duane

    Marlys……Your accomplishments and determination are definitely an inspiration to me. Will be checking off another item on the bucketlist my wife and I had made together…..different circumstances, but still going forward with the list. The last two grandkids will be experiencing Disney this March. Great stuff!

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