|My sis, Jana, and Allison (often referred to by Jana as my future wife number one)|
I'm Dr. Rob Garcia, professional life coach, Air Force Reservist, author of seven books and owner of Blue Dragon Enterprises. I reside in San Diego.
I grew up in Eureka, California in a low income household. My sister and I didn't grow up together and we were both raised by selfish mothers that subjected us to neglect, sometimes hunger, emotional abuse, and worst of all, indifference. We were poor, ignored, and had no hope, no role models and no chance of knowing anything except dysfunction.
We didn't even know about EACH OTHER until I had almost graduated high school. my mother didn't feel it was that important as say, getting high all weekend or going on a road trip to do coke with drug addicts. I had ulcers in sixth grade because I was so stressed about my 20s. I was terrified I would be poor my entire life, unloved, and never grow up to be anything but a dishwasher. My sister was tiny and shy when I first met her. I was shocked at how skinny she was. She barely spoke to me and we started an awkward but growing rapport.
Jana came into my life in high school. She was friends with Larissa and Liz and they were just different. They made their own fun. Jana hated the pretentious people in school, smiled every day, and best of all, treated me like a person. All three were nice to me frequently. They didn't care that I had probably watched an uncle get arrested at my grandmother's house that day or that my clothes were dirty, or that I never brought people over because my grandmother was a hoarder.
Jana's greatest gift was acceptance.
She was never cruel, never teased me when others did, and never had a mean word to say to me about my family situation.
I left in 96 after I had failed out of high school once and college twice. I joined the Air Force and found the stability I never knew.
In 02, I moved to San Diego, fulfilling a lifelong dream. I started towing trucks, enrolled for an MBA program, and then started teaching high school. I managed to visit Eureka and Jana was one of the first people I saw with my sister. I remember going to Jana's house and was amazed. It was decorated perfectly, smelled amazing, and was one of those "chameleon" houses, that looked normal and demure on the outside, but the inside revealed a two week visit by Martha Stewart.
That was a fun visit. Jana and I and my sister discussed our lives, Humboldt, and the upcoming 20 year high school reunion. Jana updated me on a few people's lives that had gone off the rails after high school and her thoughts about the reunion made the movie "Carrie" look like a spring comedy.
Jana was deliciously mean spirited but in two different ways. If you were fake, a bully, or arrogant, Jana's vitriol would be legendary. She had no filter, no hesitation, no fear of unleashing a barrage of verbal abuse that would terrify Joan Rivers.
But if you were liked by her, you got the "Jana beatings" that she was best known for. She had a very East Coast mentality about friendship (If I like you, I'm going to mercilessly bust your balls everyday and you better be ready).
With the advent of Facebook, Jana really found her niche. She was now able to simultaneously offend hundreds of people at one time, and yet share her passions and desire to help others. She was always a champion for the weak, the quiet, the ones that needed guidance.
A funny thing started to happen as well. My friends started noticing her.
And liking her a LOT more than me. More than one person would "tune in" to Facebook to watch Jana verbally eviscerate me daily. I'd post a picture of a wolf cot I was sleeping on in my tiny studio, and Jana would wonder "where I fit the skanks."
Any girl that I dated and put up pictures of on Facebook was accused by Jana of being transgender.
I started taking an interest in wrestling again and Jana would text, "Oh hey, Fandango and Summer Rae are wrestling on Monday Night Raw tonight. It's a great match. I'm going to watch the whole thing. Too bad you don't have cable."
Jana didn't even like wrestling. But she liked to give me shit and laugh about it.
Jana always was quick to congratulate me on my victories. She was my cheering squad. Blue Dragon started to take steam and I started writing books and life coaching? Jana loved it. I got my doctoral dissertation approved? 37 Facebook comments. Jana was FIRST. I wrote a diet plan, beat my own problems with obesity and made a book out of it? Jana was cheering in the front row.
I think Jana liked that someone had made it out of Humboldt, never given up and had created their own success. She loved Blue Dragon and what it stands for (Optimization of human potential through fitness, compassion, intelligence, and confidence).
Jana reached out to people and the stories are heartwarming. She charmed my evil ex Air Force boss, Keith and his wife Kelly. Complete strangers living on the East Coast and Jana sent him a cake on his birthday.
She created a complete support network and encouraged my friends in their times of need and sorrow.
Then Jana had one last surprise for us in the final weeks of her life. An engagement
When my sis first told me about Jana having a boyfriend, my first words were, "That poor bastard, she's going to challenge him every day."
You couldn't just charm Jana. You had to earn it. She liked her men muscular, European model hot, and most of all, mute. I associate her with Cleopatra. A powerful, brilliantly smart woman that could run an empire, but yet would surround herself with 30 bronzed, ripped male slaves to accommodate her every whim, as long as silence was maintained.
Doug shocked us all. Trips to SF and wine country. Initials in the sand. Dinner parties. Best of all, a giant smile and genuine affection. Doug filled the void in Jana's life and had the charm of a wealthy aristocrat. Classy, attentive, and a best friend.
I could NEVER show pics of them to anyone I dated. Doug set the bar too high. He showered her with affection, gave her amazing life experiences, and reminded me what it was like to find your best friend.
Jana's announcement on December 29th was amazing. Her Camilia bush had produced a single, beautiful flower, and Doug asked her to marry him.
We all wanted that wedding BAD. It carried hope, it inspired others to hold out for love that is sincere and beautiful, and most of all, it was a pairing that was legendary.
It was my version of Charles and Diana. I wanted so much for a huge ceremony, to see Jana in that dress, to see the looks of pride on her family's face.
Thank you Doug, for making Jana's last weeks, her very best. I know that every day with you was a special gift to her.
Jana's last actions in her life defined her support for my company. I wrote an article on free college and Jana spread it like wildfire. She believed strongly in self improvement and helping other people have the lives of their dreams.
She was using tips from my Skinny Dragon Diet plan in the final week of her life. I was so proud of her. Spin class, managing portion sizes, nightly walks. As she told me, "Garcia, I don't want to get married in a circus tent." She was hellbent on getting in shape, on being a vision on her wedding day.
Blue Dragon now has international life coaching clients, 7 books to its name, and I am a frequent speaker at high schools to help low income kids and adults find their success.
Because of Jana, I will have no fear. I will push harder than ever to defeat my roadblocks and God help anyone that stands in my way.
Thank you Jana, for supporting me, denying me any pity, and pushing me to be the best I possibly could. As she would often tell me in moments of uncertainty, "Pfffft, dont worry Garcia, you got this"
Please take a moment and subscribe to this blog. I promise that the content will change your life. Thank you for reading this and I hope to hear about your Jana stories as well.
In the coming week, I will formally announce the Jana Cochrane Writing Scholarship to be awarded to young writers pursuing college careers in writing, English, or journalism.
Details will be found at www.bluedragonent.com.
Dr. Rob Garcia