The Jana Project

Jana and I met when we taught at the same school in Seoul, South Korea. We lived the ex-pat life  — nights spent at the bar, days spent teaching ESL to kids who didn’t want to learn English, weekend trips around the country to escape the busy city life and trips to Thai beaches. There was even a trip to visit her in her native Texas between teaching gigs.

We didn’t see each other again after I finally made my way home for good in 2006 but we kept in touch over the years.

When I found out that she died two months ago at the age of 44, I was gutted. I cried for days.

There was no outlet for my grief. The memorial service was more than 2,000 kilometres away and all of our mutual friends are scattered around the world. I struggled to find even a sliver of closure.

Despite finding solace and joy in my children, taking the time to grieve is nearly impossible with two little ones in constant need of food and/or attention.

A couple of weeks after she died, I went to get something in the garage and ended up finding the solitude and space I needed to grieve. I had found my outlet in an old, nearly forgotten, cabinet in the garage.

I had been wanting to refinish it for a while but I could never quite decide what I wanted to do with it. So it sat and collected dust, waiting for inspiration to hit.

And it finally did.

I headed straight to the hardware store and bought aqua paint.

The cabinet would be a bright blue, like Jana’s striking eyes that everyone noticed and loved.

The evenings I spent sanding, painting and sealing were therapeutic beyond compare. I laughed, cried, smiled and reminisced. I listened to music we shared and songs I knew she loved.

It was one of the most cathartic experiences I’ve ever had.


With it’s new (and oh so very blue) paint and new knobs, this little cabinet is the pop of colour my entrance needed.

It’s not the same blue as her eyes but I think of her every time I look at it.

I love how this project helped me grieve. I also love how this cabinet turned out. And I love that a new hobby, blog topic and income grew out of my grief. But more on that soon.

This one is for you, JanaBanana. The world lost laughter when you left.

Be well and take care of each other,


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