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 


I was part of the inaugural teacher training class at Epic Yoga Center. Today I was given the opportunity to speak to this year‘s teacher training class about Seva, the practice of selfless giving. 

When I went through training in 2012, my Seva project involved creating a yoga program at Rocketown Teen Club in downtown Nashville. (Rocketown is a music venue, coffee-shop and skate park that is dedicated to serving at-risk youth in the area.)

It was a success as it served kids, staff, parents and even grandparents on a weekly basis. (Also, from that year forward, Rocketown became the home of the Music City Yoga Festival.)

At that time, I didn’t realize the needs of kids in foster care. After meeting Jimmy in 2015, I learned about the struggles of these beautiful kids, and more specifically the needs of girls still struggling through a broken system and those who have aged out into homelessness — or worse.

Fast forward to late 2016 when I approached Monroe Harding about offering Yoga to the at-risk girls they served through one of their programs called Youth Connections.

I was able to commit to a monthly class but starting next month — with the help of Epic Yoga, and a sponsor I’ll tell you about soon — we’ll not only be able to bring Yoga to the girls, but the Youth Connections staff and Foster Moms who work tirelessly to serve them.

These individuals will have an weekly opportunity to practice Yoga with a certified teacher. 

Yoga reduces stress, increases flexibility, strength and muscle tone in its practitioners, but it is also proven to help girls who have experience childhood trauma. 

Here’s a recent article by the Washington Post outlining some of the research. 

Hats off to Leanne Woehlke (founder and owner of Epic Yoga Center) and her selfless teaching staff for their offer of teacher-support in this beautiful endeavor. 

Thank you Tara, Leah, Sarah, and Pamela at Monroe Harding and Youth Connections for helping us give these amazing young ladies a sense of peace, healing, and the tools to deal with the stresses of their fight-or-flight lives.

Thank you especially to Jimmy for opening my eyes to the needs of these vulnerable and valuable children and for inspiring me daily in every way.

Red Carpets: What to consider the next time you tune in

While the world seems to be celebrating the CMA show, I want to point to some often forgotten people — the ones who work hard for an hourly wage to feed their kids. The people who make sure the red carpet is vacuumed before any artist steps foot onto it. The people who have zero ego while picking up trash tossed by some new male duo wearing bedazzled jackets someone told them looked good. The ticket takers who aren’t given eye contact or a “thank you.” The humble woman who is raising her grandchildren on three part-time jobs ... the people in these roles rarely ever get acknowledged for their hard work.

As you watch the all the coverage this Awards Season, please think of these folks you’ll never, ever see. Pray that they get to their cars safely after the event, that they are treated with respect and they make enough to keep their heat and lights on and their children fed.

Love and Light. 

PS: The people I personally work with are respectful and kind. They over-tip and open doors for everyone, no matter what that person’s role. (And yes — I’ve declined work and resigned jobs after seeing how a company leader or an artist treats their teams, family or the person picking up trash at a venue. Integrity and respect matter.)

"Measure Twice. Cut Once." Miguel Martinez

When I speak to colleges, businesses or leadership organizations about PR strategy, I reference my grandfather's wisdom. As an entrepreneur, he never wasted resources. He used to say, "careful preparation leads to great execution so always measure twice, cut once."

On a daily basis, my team is approached by businesses who've had bad experiences with PR. After a bit of inquiry, we usually find these businesses engaged in PR services without having first established clear, measurable goals. Their results reflect that lack of vision. While I hate hearing these campaign horror stories, I’m glad to help these businesses cultivate and refine their profiles, messaging, and goals.

So, getting back to my grandfather and how his wisdom relates to my daily business. We take "measure twice" to mean: do your homework. Every PR professional should know what makes a client unique.

The publicist should mine for angles, draft powerful, thought-provoking narratives and research the very best journalists and outlets to help share those specific narratives.
The second half of my grandfather's quote is, "cut once."

If you have a great story that runs before or after your campaign's impact window, then you've failed to maximize a great opportunity. Sometimes you only get one shot to make a pitch so think about timing when you're asking for placement.

Here's an example of a well-timed article that clearly articulates our client’s brand.
Kim Kelly of Vice/Noisey (follow her if you don't already) wrote an outstanding article on Angaleena Presley's new 'Wrangled' album. Kim really "gets" great artistry so we knew she would appreciate Angaleena's music, lyrics, production style and the album's powerful social commentary.

We offered Kim an exclusive song to stream — a shareable bonus for her readers — and a presale link to the album giving readers a chance to transact immediately.

The result was a story that accurately reflects the artist’s brand, image, and message, with immediate, measurable results we pulled by tracking social media traffic and impressive digital streaming and sales spikes.

Here’s a link to the article:

For more PR tips, or to find out about our PR and Marketing services, contact Jackie Marushka at



I'm frequently asked, “Are you always this joyful?” Surely you can’t always be this chipper.” 

Well, as it turns out, I am, and I'm not ashamed of it.

Sure, I have days when I'm sidelined by bad news or by someone who is disrespectful or unkind.  Who hasn't been there?  The trick is that I never let that linger. Life is short, and I’m not about to let anything steal a single moment of my joy. 

One thing I started doing several years ago is CHOOSING to keep toxicity and negativity out of my life. Yep. You heard me. I CHOOSE joy. What's great is that you have that choice, too!

You see, joy — as opposed to happiness — is not a feeling, but a state of being. It's about peace and confidence and seeing the world through a filter of love and kindness. 

This doesn't mean I'm weak or acquiescent; it means I choose not to bask in, or spread negativity.  It means I'm in control of my life and emotions.

So, if YOU want joy in your life, here are a few things that I have learned along the way:

-Move away from toxic people, information and physical items that hold negative associations.  This includes anything from that "downer" friend, co-worker or social media account, to a seemingly harmless gift from an old relationship you're holding onto for some "can't let it go" reason.

-Ask the hard questions: "Why am I choosing to keep this toxicity in my life?" Then listen to your excuses. My experience coaching and teaching yoga taught me that many people don’t want to hurt someone's feelings, but others are sadly addicted to stress that comes with a toxic relationship.

-Exercise. Meditate. GET OUTSIDE. Choose a healthy diet. Fill yourself up with life and light, and you will see changes. I promise!

-When it comes to toxic people, liars, gossips or "sad sacks," do not feel sorry for them and do not enable them. These purveyors of negativity are "energy predators" who love nothing more than to spread their misery. They do not care about your well-being. Walk Away Now. Believe me, they'll find another victim. It's what they do. 

-Hear this truth clearly: by choosing to allow toxicity into your mind, spirit, and heart; YOU ALONE give away the space that should be filled with joy, positive energy, and happiness. There's a BEAUTIFUL life waiting for you once you let go of negativity.  Life is short. The energy spent dealing with toxicity could be spent growing yourself, doing positive things for others, or simply enjoying life to its fullest.

-What you choose to take in is what you will ultimately give back to the world. Instead of "garbage in, garbage out," I ask that you choose, "love in, love out." #LoveInLoveOut

Seek it and you will find it. The choice is yours alone. 

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things, there is no law.”‭ Galatians ‭5:22-23 ‬

Dream big. Dream out loud.

“Go ahead. I’m listening. Dream big. Dream out loud.”  - Mom

I received a call last month from an artist I worked with more than 20 years ago when I was a brand new record label publicist. 

It was a joy to catch up with her. She’s happily married with two beautiful little boys and sounded like sunshine. 

I asked how I could help her.  Her reply?  “I just wanted to thank you.” 

“For what?” I asked. 

“For helping me realize where I needed to be,” she said. 

She reminded me of a conversation we had very early in her career — about a week before I wrote her first bio. She said, “Jackie — that was the first time anyone had ever asked me what I wanted. It was the first time I felt anyone had listened to me.” 

I couldn’t believe it. 

“You were interviewing me, and you said: ‘Go ahead. I’m listening. Dream big. Dream out loud.’" 

It struck me that she was recalling the very words my mom would say to me to encourage ideas and vision when I was growing up. 

The artist said she'd held on to those words while navigating her professional and personal life and was even passing the idea of “dreaming big” on to her kids. 

That phone call was a moment I’ll never forget because it reinforced just how much words and actions influence people.

The takeaway? Listen first and lead with love. You never know what your actions or words will influence. 


"Believe you can fly, and you will!" — Mom

Location: Roberto Clemente Bridge, Pittsburgh, PA / Photo by Jimmy Wayne

"Believe you can fly, and you will!" —Mom
During summer months in Northern New Mexico, Mom worked three jobs to make ends meet, provide the basics for our family and pay for two masters degrees, which she earned during summer school at a college four hours away from our small town.

During the school year, she held a full-time job as an elementary school teacher while taking night classes and investing time into me and my sister. 

Daily, she challenged us to learn, grow, save, take care of what we earned ("a stitch in time ..." ) and take care of ourselves: body, mind and spirit.

A goal setter and hard worker in every aspect of her life, she has always been sensible, frugal, kind, generous, and she always thinks of the future —hers, and the futures of those she loves. 

All she has, she earned, and she equipped me and my sister with a fierce work ethic, competitive spirit and high expectations for ourselves and those around us. 

Over her 20 + years in education, she worked her way from elementary school teacher to high school principal to superintendent of her school district, the position from which she retired just three years ago. After retirement, she took a "part time" job teaching at a local private school which soon became a 40-hour-a-week labor of love.

I am who I am today because of her. She is a fearless woman who never cut corners, or took anything for free. While firm in her expectations for excellence, she warmly encouraged us at every turn, reassuring us there wasn't anything we couldn't accomplish if we focused and worked hard. 

Thinking of mom today — Sunday, a day of reflection and of preparation for the week ahead — I'm inspired to share one of my favorite quotes of hers because maybe someone out there needs to hear it.

"Believe you can fly, and you will!" —Mom

The most important question you'll ever ask yourself: "What makes me happy?"

When asked, "What do you do for a living?"  I used to say, "I'm a publicist." 
The more I refined what I did, however, the less accurate that description became. 

So, what do I do for a living? Well, I'm still a publicist, communications strategist and brand builder — however, over the past 20 years, my role has evolved to include that of a coach. 

As a publicist, I write press releases, pitch and place stories and book performances and personal appearances. I help journalists connect with artists, authors and business leaders for interviews, and I research facts and statistics to support my pitches. 

While excellent coverage in the right media channels at the right time is the end game for any publicist, all great pitches start with a clear story.

(What 20+ years in PR has taught me is that the refinement of a story needs to take place before anything else. You'd be surprised how many marketing, tech companies, and ad agencies approach this in reverse. It never works, and I've lost count the number of times I've been brought in to help realign or "restart" campaigns that have lost direction because there wasn't a clear message, to begin with.)

That's where coaching comes into the picture.

Plan the work, then work the plan:

Because my clients range from recording artists and executives to Human Resource directors of major corporations, my clients’ goals often include delivering fabulous on-camera interviews and performances on national TV, to nailing a seemingly basic conference room presentation. 

Whatever the goal, we always start with a Q&A session that yields a client's core story points. 

Who are they? What makes them different? Why should people "tune in" to their message? What do they want to achieve, long term? All of these nuggets matter in uncovering their unique and compelling story.

I listen carefully to the client's goals and dreams, and then I create a one-sheet reflecting their story. We build pitches from this base-narrative.

What's REALLY cool about this process is that it ALWAYS, leads to a "bucket list" discussion that reveals what the person wants to achieve in their lifetime, and what do they need to do to make that happen. The client not only has "A-HA!" moments but they make life-changing plans and commit to setting those plans in motion.

As a publicist, the "story" is where my work would end. As a coach, it's where my work begins. 

Once the client's "dreams" are out in the open, we work on weekly, achievable action items and set deadlines for long and short term goals. Then we meet/call/Skype monthly for accountability and discussion.

The results are life changing! And, guess what? You can do this, too.

Do you want to change your circumstances? Do you want a better life?  Look deep into your heart and ask:  What makes me happy? What makes my heart jump out of my chest? What would I do if I knew I couldn't fail? 

Once you answer that question in detail, write it down. Within moments, your life’s roadmap will reveal itself. 

So ... come on now. Think about it: What makes YOU HAPPY!? 

Your future is in your hands!