Who: Johanna Anderson Swanson (IG @marylana)

Occupation: Elementary School Teacher, Owner/Designer of Mar y Lana

Location: on Sabbatical


I have known Johanna for about 15 years. We were friends of friends, saw each other at parties or birthdays.  I always wanted to get to know her better, and I somehow kind of knew that I would.

Instead of telling you a bunch of details about her, I’m going to tell you a story that tells you who Johanna is.

One day about a year ago, I was going through a strange thing with my right hand.  All of a sudden the joints got swollen and I couldn’t use it. Literally. I couldn’t even open a jar. I wasn’t able to do a huge part of what I do as a career, Structural Integration, for awhile.

During that time, which was intensely scary for me, Johanna asked me if I wanted to go  surfing in Morrocco with her and some girls that upcoming November. (Of course I wanted to.) But I didn’t have enough money for the trip and I started telling her about my hand.  She then proceeded to tell me that she was getting a double mastectomy and both her ovaries taken out and that she was committed to going anyway.

Just when I thought I had a challenge!

I said, ‘Ya know, I think I can figure it out.” That was the beginning of Johanna and I getting really close, really fast. We had one of the best trips of our lives by the way!

She, by action not by word, reminds me to never feel sorry for myself and always make the best of situations.

She is very tall and elegant. Confident. She is never too tired or busy to help out a friend. Colombian and American. She is an inexhaustible mother, a quixotic partner (as described by her husband Jake who says you have to look up the word to get the full definition) and an inclusive friend.

I am mixing it up this time and we did a full audio interview.  It’s my favorite format yet by far. (scroll to directly under the photos to press play)

Sat nam,