For Mom & The Future Teachers, Social Workers ServinG At-Risk Youth

I was invited to deliver this year’s commencement address at my high school, “Espanola Valley,” in Northern New Mexico.  There were more than 3,000 family and supporters in the audience, celebrating the accomplishments of the 200 graduates. 

While speaking in my hometown was a privilege, I was most thrilled to honor my mom with a scholarship I started in her name. Mom, who was in the front row that day, was a career teacher who became Superintendent of her school system. I’m very proud of her. The scholarship will be awarded to an EVHS graduate majoring in education or social work, starting next year. 

(Thanks so much to Jimmy Wayne for the photo.)

#Keynote #Commencement #Mentor #LifeCoach #Speaker #Panelist #PR #RedCarpet #BrandStrategist #Writer #Creative #Women #Hispanic #Entrepreneur #SmallBusinessOwner #BusinessPlanner #Education #Balance #Yoga #SocialWork #GiveBack

My Yoga Teacher Wants To Kill Me

Midway through most yoga classes, a thought crosses my mind. Is my yoga teacher trying to KILL me?! 

Of course she's not trying to kill me.

What she IS doing though, is helping me clear some mental clutter through an intense yoga practice in a heated room at a studio I love — Epic Yoga.

Epic teaches "Power Vinyasa Yoga” which links your breath with a series of yoga poses over the duration of an hour or 90 minutes. 

As you move through the poses, your breath guides your body and your mind. Your breath also helps heat your body from the inside out, which ignites your metabolism. (Bonus points!) Each pose challenges, stretches, and strengthens, but also allows your body to release toxins. (This is great for those of us under a lot of stress.)

Each time you practice, your body will likely feel different. Sometimes flexible and supple — other times, not so much.

So, today, while I was internally swearing at my very "Zen" yoga teacher —  wishing I was ANYWHERE but in that one stupid pose, I decided to surrender. I just stop trying to force the pose and just let go of my “monkey brain” thoughts and, well, I just let go.

Let go?

Yes — I let go of control and simply surrendered to the moment.

As soon as I stopped fighting the pose ... boom. I fell right into it.

My point is, every time I make "surrender" my intention, something magical happens. I find new levels of strength, peace and inspiration.

When you start doing yoga, you may hear your teachers say: "how you are on your mat, is how you are in life." 

What they mean, is that your mat is parallel to your life. When a pose is challenging or when you’re fatigued, what do you do?  

Do you run? Do you distract yourself by chasing fleeting thoughts? OR do you stay and breathe through it knowing there’s a breakthrough around the corner?

Do you force yourself into a pose even though you know you shouldn't? Do you talk down to yourself? (“I’ll never be able to get this ... I’m just not going to ever get this right.”)

If you do these things ON your mat, chances are you're doing them OFF your mat as well. From impatience and frustration with a pose, to a lack of grace and self-love while being asked to simply "be still” — it all translates to how we go about our daily lives.

The takeaway for anyone — if you practice yoga or not, is instead of trying to force something, just loosen your grip on it a little. Maybe even let it go completely... let life breathe ... stop trying to control it. Don't overthink things — just "be."

By making life a dance instead of a wrestling match, maybe, just maybe—you’ll find a new level of beauty, peace and freedom.

May light and love cover you as you let yourself "be."

#LessonsFromTheMat #Manduka #LoveInLoveOut #MandukaAmbassador #PracticeOn #SHINE

North Carolina

Life Lessons

Ever have one of those "look back on life" moments? I had one this weekend, and I couldn't have anticipated how it would impact me, or how grateful I'd be for someone special who believed in and invested in me. 

I was sitting in the Ford Theater at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum watching the Nashville Cats honor Riders In The Sky's accordion player and producer, Joey Miskulin. 

As I watched Joey play B3 on “Angel of Harlem” in the legendary Sun Studio (see video below), I was taken back to the tiny village in Northern New Mexico where I grew up. 

While a clip from U2"s "Rattle and Hum" video streamed and music filled the auditorium, I recalled being an awkward, scrawny kid working at my Grandpa Miguel’s Texaco station, pumping gas, cleaning windshields, and changing tires and motor oil.

I closed my eyes, and suddenly I was back home. The memory was so vivid. I could feel the sun on my face, dry air in my lungs and could even smell the combination of fresh-cut alfalfa, motor oil, gasoline, and Windex. 

I could never have imagined as a 9-year-old, that someday I’d work with the front man for the biggest rock band in history on the launch of a campaign to aid people in Africa, called "DATA," which eventually became "The ONE Campaign." I also could never have imagined getting to represent Riders In The Sky; the legendary Western band made up of four of the most creative and intelligent musicians in the world. 

No ... I didn't know what the future held for me at the time. I was consumed with making sure that after my homework was done,  
every tool was in its place, and the "air pig" hose was rolled up properly. 

Grandpa Miguel ALWAYS checked on things before he closed the store and gas station for the night and, because he was my hero, I didn't let him down by doing things poorly. 

I didn't realize that while I was learning to fix a flat tire or change the oil in a 1971 Delta 88, that my work ethic was being formed. 

Grandpa Miguel was the first entrepreneur I ever knew, and he approached everything with integrity, honesty, planning (he was
also a year-round farmer), and "always leaving things better than you found them."

As I relived that memory this weekend, I only wished I could tell "Grandpa Mike" just how his life lessons impacted me. 

I touched my hand to my heart, pictured his clean-shaven face which would have smelled like "Old Spice" and whispered, "Thank you, Grandpa."

You Get What You Give

Monroe Harding Yoga Opportunity Passport Wed Feb 14, 2018.png

Last week I spoke to a great group of kids at Monroe Harding’s “Youth Connections,” which serves youth who are abused, abandoned, neglected and even homeless. 

I was there to invite them to attend free, weekly yoga classes that’d offer an hour of reprieve from their daily fight-or-flight level stress.

Kids who are in and out of foster care are good kids stuck in bad circumstances. Their worlds are inconsistent and they’ve been let down by just about everyone. They want to make something of themselves — they just need someone to meet them halfway.

I’m not a therapist. I’m a branding guru who found peace in yoga and got certified to teach it.

How can YOU help? 

Review your resources. Mine was yoga. What's yours?

Maybe you cut hair? Can you offer a free haircut to a kid who otherwise couldn’t afford one?

If you run a business, would you hire a foster kid or offer an internship?

Can you make time to play basketball or help with homework? 

These kids need minimum resources: a home, medical care, and the opportunity to work and go to school — but they also need to know someone is in their corner. And guess what — YOU can be their light. 

Will you join me in meeting a kid halfway? 

Just visit Project Meet Me Halfway for more details on now to dive in or to ask specific questions about opportunities in your area, and for a look inside the mind of a foster kid, please read “Walk To Beautiful,” by Jimmy Wayne.

type-a? no way!

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I've been told all my life I'm "Type-A," but that's simply not true. Sure, I'm goal oriented, competitive, and a leader who loves charging the hill for worthy causes and for my clients, but, the real me — the "me" in my natural habitat — is a colorful and creative, free spirit. 

There's a faucet of melodies, pictures, and story ideas pouring into my mind and heart ... all ... the... time. (I even keep a notebook by my bed because writing things down helps me sleep.)

Don't get me wrong — I’m grateful I learned the art of "gettin' it done," but if I let the go-getter in me be "on" all the time, I'll burn out.

I used to feel guilty about stopping to breathe, sleep in, or even take a lunch break. I quickly realized that running so hard without stopping to rest wasn't just bad for me — it was taking my eyes off the goals I'd been aiming for.

I learned from one of my mentors, Joe Galante, to take time to evaluate how a plan is working so money, time and other important resources are used wisely.

This is critical in business and in life. 

After my first case of corporate burnout, I decided to make a life change. I "cleared the decks" and started saying "no" to everything I didn't need to do. I bought a day planner and scheduled time for self care, whether it was praying or a long walk or sleeping in on Saturdays.  I literally scheduled time for rest and quiet.

This is also when I started my yoga practice. The hour on my mat reminds me that, while the world matters, so do I.

Epiphany anyone?

Yep ... that thought process changed everything.

In the same timeframe, I started journaling. Like yoga, it helped me focus. I saw patterns I needed to break and areas I needed to shore up. I was also able to balance my “left and right brained-ness."  These two practices reminded me that I’m not a robot, but a colorful and creative free-spirit.

Some say that yoga — the union of movement and breath — is like a dance. That said, if I can't get to my mat or only have a few minutes because "life happens” — I dance!

Sometimes in the kitchen with Jimmy softly singing one of his beautiful melodies in my ear, or in the rain all by myself, or maybe it's a full-on rave set to whatever goofy song is in my head at the time.

Whatever your groove, the important thing is to step out of the routine and step into the moment. Breathe it in. Protect that three minutes and just BE. 

Today I danced — and you can too.  Make time for yourself. Schedule it in. Even if it's just three minutes, you'll reap the benefits of being present. 

#TakeCareOfYou #FromTheMatUp #MandukaYoga

"Shine" was written and recorded by Jimmy Wayne

get your mind out of the gutter and get your head between your legs

Jackie Marushka www.marushkamedia.com

How to Replace Stress and Anxiety with
Peace, Clarity, Strength and Balance

Yoga changed my life.

With my first practice eight years ago, I learned there was a safe space to clear my mind for 60 or 90 minutes. This discipline quickly became a way of Life.

My red yoga mat became my “prayer closet” and my “war room” —  a non-judgmental space for quiet time with God. This space taught me compassion for myself — a new concept for me, a competitive, Type-A overachiever.

Yoga — which translates to “union” or “to yoke” — is a series of physical poses linked to your breath.

So, yoga is simply a moving meditation.

It’s become a multi- million dollar fitness movement, complete with apparel, props, and brands, but at the end of the day, it’s about serenity and balance — mind, body and spirit. 

Everyone meditates differently — for me, praying while I inhale and exhale, is where I find peace. A Peace that transcends location. 

The Peace cultivated on my mat is with me in traffic, when I face the nastiest of people spewing anger, and leads me to continue serving those who do not have a voice or a choice.

Yoga also taught me to surrender — which isn’t a weakness by any means, but a strength.

Surrender asks us to be strong enough to engage each moment with integrity while being soft enough to flow with the current of life. It taught me patience and to let things go.

Guess what — I’m a MUCH happier person.

For my Christian Friends, fear not — depending on the yoga class you choose to attend, there will be no creepy chants or “mystery words” you’ll be “tricked” into saying as part of the class routine.

There is one phrase you’ll hear — “Namaste.” This simply means, “the light in me sees and honors the Light in you.”  It’s about respect and kindness. Nothing wrong with that, right?

If you’re unsure about yoga — why not give it a try? You have nothing to lose, and only peace, flexibility, strength and joy to gain.

YOGA FACTS:
-Most studios rent mats and customize classes to meet anyone’s physical goals and will modify to anyone’s body type or injuries. 
-You don’t have to be in shape or flexible to begin. The instructor will help modify poses so you honor YOUR body.
-NOBODY will be looking at you. Practitioners are there to better themselves, so let it go. Trust me on this. Unless you are teaching, no one will be looking at you.
-YOGA IS FOR EVERYONE. Every size, shape race, creed, socioeconomic status and age — male or female.
-For those who think yoga is “sissified” or not challenging, I invite you to try it just once. 

HAVE QUESTIONS?

Please post them below or shoot an email to Jackie@MarushkaMedia.com. I’m happy to make recommendations on yoga styles, classes, studios AND what to expect and how to prepare for your first class.


Namaste, friends!

A reminder that giving is the blessing.

A reminder that giving is the blessing.

I have no idea who took this picture, but THANK YOU! In one moment it captures the blessings of an entire week. I’ll never forget how it felt to wash the tiny feet of children orphaned by Haiti’s earthquake and its aftermath. 

The feet of these children were covered in scars, cuts and callouses. Also, many of the kids’ arches had fallen because they hadn’t worn shoes in over a year.  (The earthquake that killed more than a quarter of a million people, struck Jan. 8, 2010.)

As a group of us washed, dried and fitted each child for new, clean socks and a new pair of shoes, we talked to, or sang to, each sweet child. 

Every one of these little ones approached with caution but I had a breakthrough when, by accident, I tickled the bottom of a little girl’s foot and she erupted in high-pitched giggles. 

Her laughter was so infectious that it caused the kids and adults around us to laugh as well.

That was Day 1 of a week-long trip that offered everything from sadness to joy, and opened my heart and eyes to the beauty of Haiti and it’s resilient people.  Thank you again, Christine Maddela, for encouragThese kids and this country changed my world.

How To Have a Peaceful Thanksgiving

On Thanksgiving eve,some folks may be dreading tomorrow’s potential conversations over culture, politics, etc ... 

If that’s you, here’s what I suggest:

1. Step away for a minute and think about 3 things you’re grateful for and then decide to take the high road. (Yes, I’m asking a lot, but REALLY — what do you have to lose?)

2. Go after the canned cranberry sauce — you know the one ... it’ll be sitting all alone, quietly quivering on its humble little serving dish, it’s embossed can-lines doing the wave. 

3. Sit at the kid’s table with your shameless helping of gelatinous-berried goodness. 

4. Have a conversation with the 3-year-olds at your table with food in your teeth. Make faces and silly chomping noises as you eat, and appreciate the sensible ones in the room (that would be the kids) as they laugh out loud. 

5. Breathe!

Remember — you can change the room with your positive energy and a little levity goes a long way.

Wishing you all a VERY Happy — and Peaceful — Gratitude Thursday. 

“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” James‬ ‭3:17‬ 

#BeAPeacemaker #Thanksgiving #GratitudeThursday #LoveInLoveOut #ThinkGoodSayGoodDoGood #GoodNews