Episode 194 – Unstoppable Relentless and Determined Woman with Jackie Celske
Jackie Celske was born in Chicago. Around the age of 4 she and her family including two siblings moved to just outside London England for her father’s job. One pretty unique fact about Jackie’s family is that her brother, one year younger than she, was born with autism. In one sense, due to the specifics of his situation, Jackie’s brother Matt was fortunate as his diagnosis came when he was two years old. However, as with many children with disabilities, including me for that matter, Matt’s and Jackie’s parents were advised to send him to a home as he could never amount to anything. Jackie’s parents rejected that advice.
When the family moved to England Jackie went to a girls school and Matt was put in special segregated classes. Jackie’s younger sister also was put in a different classroom environment. As Jackie will tell us, she flourished pretty well, but Matt did not. When Jackie was 14, the family moved to a small town in Illinois. For Matt it was a wonderful change because his aunt taught 5th grade and Matt was put into a much more integrated school environment. Life wasn’t so great for Jackie. She experienced a brutal sexual assault while in her sophomore high school year. As she will explain, it really wasn’t until the past two years that she was able to really move beyond that experience and heal.
Jackie went to college and then secured employment. Jackie’s degrees revolved around communications which clearly she demonstrates by how she and I interact.
Jackie will tell you about her chronic illness that stemmed in part from her assault and how only through the use of an experimental treatment she seems to be in remission or cured.
Jackie’s latest major step on her life journey is that a month ago she left teaching in a higher education institution and started her own business, The Prose Co. She will tell you about her new marketing and PR agency. Be sure to check it out.
By any standard, Jackie is unstoppable. Her story will be well worth your time.
About the Guest:
Having grown up in London, England with a sibling with Autism, Jackie Celske learned at a young age that the way we communicate matters. She believes the right words heal us, inspire us, and unite us. Most importantly, the right words – the right stories – have the power to change the world.
Jackie has spent the last 13 years of her career providing professional marketing, communications, and PR services in industries spanning non-profit and healthcare to financial services, manufacturing, and higher education. No matter the field, she has always been inspired by the stories that highlight the people and purpose behind brands.
Three weeks ago, this passion led her to leave her full-time job and start her own business titled The PROSE Co. On a mission to change the world with stories that get write to the heart of it, The PROSE Co. is a marketing communications agency specializing in creating compelling content that connects with your audience and helps you stand out from the crowd. Whether you need advertising and copywriting support, fund development strategies, social media and event management or team-building workshops (and more!), The PROSE Co. is a one-stop shop for all your branding and content needs.
Jackie holds a master’s degree in Public Relations and Digital Communication from Johns Hopkins University and a bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies and Psychology from Augustana College.
A relentless advocate for women and other survivors in her community, Jackie participates as a member and past president of Junior League of the Quad Cities, serves on the board of directors for Argrow’s House, and sits on both the YWCA of the Quad Cities YES SHE CAN Advisory Committee and Family Resources Stewardship Committee. She also loves spending time learning and growing with her mentee through Lead(h)er. When she’s not working, you can find her traveling the world, playing with her rescue doodle, or writing her next parody song.
Ways to connect with Jackie:
Here is a link to my LinkedIn page: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jacquelinecelske/. Here is a link to my new business website, The PROSE Co.: https://theproseco.com
Here is a link to my goFundMe for my experimental medical treatment. It lays out my story in more detail: https://www.gofundme.com/jackies-medical-treatment-expenses
About the Host:
Michael Hingson is a New York Times best-selling author, international lecturer, and Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe. Michael, blind since birth, survived the 9/11 attacks with the help of his guide dog Roselle. This story is the subject of his best-selling book, Thunder Dog.
Michael gives over 100 presentations around the world each year speaking to influential groups such as Exxon Mobile, AT&T, Federal Express, Scripps College, Rutgers University, Children’s Hospital, and the American Red Cross just to name a few. He is Ambassador for the National Braille Literacy Campaign for the National Federation of the Blind and also serves as Ambassador for the American Humane Association’s 2012 Hero Dog Awards.
Thanks for listening!
Thanks so much for listening to our podcast! If you enjoyed this episode and think that others could benefit from listening, please share it using the social media buttons on this page. Do you have some feedback or questions about this episode? Leave a comment in the section below!
Subscribe to the podcast
If you would like to get automatic updates of new podcast episodes, you can subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher. You can also subscribe in your favorite podcast app.
Leave us an Apple Podcasts review
Ratings and reviews from our listeners are extremely valuable to us and greatly appreciated. They help our podcast rank higher on Apple Podcasts, which exposes our show to more awesome listeners like you. If you have a minute, please leave an honest review on Apple Podcasts.
**Michael Hingson ** 00:00
Access Cast and accessiBe Initiative presents Unstoppable Mindset. The podcast where inclusion, diversity and the unexpected meet. Hi, I’m Michael Hingson, Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe and the author of the number one New York Times bestselling book, Thunder dog, the story of a blind man, his guide dog and the triumph of trust. Thanks for joining me on my podcast as we explore our own blinding fears of inclusion unacceptance and our resistance to change. We will discover the idea that no matter the situation, or the people we encounter, our own fears, and prejudices often are our strongest barriers to moving forward. The unstoppable mindset podcast is sponsored by accessiBe, that’s a c c e s s i capital B e. Visit
to learn how you can make your website accessible for persons with disabilities. And to help make the internet fully inclusive by the year 2025. Glad you dropped by we’re happy to meet you and to have you here with us.
**Michael Hingson ** 01:21
Welcome once again to unstoppable mindset. You know these are really fun things to do these episodes and getting a chance to meet so many people. Today I get to talk to a communications expert and a person who I’ve gotten to know a little bit since we started chatting and exchanging email several months ago, but Jackie Celske blew me away last week when she said I need to update my bio and all of that because I’ve just changed I quit my job. I’ve started my own company. And everything is now different. And I went okay, perfect. Exciting. No wonder we didn’t do it before now. So Jackie, welcome to unstoppable mindset.
**Jackie Celske ** 02:02
Thank you so much for having me. I’m really excited for our conversation today. Well,
**Michael Hingson ** 02:06
we are as well. And I certainly hope our audience is going to be as excited as I am. But let’s start with the younger Jackie, you grew up in London. Were you born in England and then grew up or what?
**Jackie Celske ** 02:20
No, I actually was born in Chicago, Illinois. Good place. Yes. My well, great other than Chicago sports. I’m a Wisconsin sports fan, ironically.
**Michael Hingson ** 02:31
But Wisconsin doesn’t have Garrett Popcorn. Oh, that
**Jackie Celske ** 02:35
is true. That is true. It’s a hard. Ooh, toss up there. Yeah, I didn’t spend a lot of time in Chicago. I’m the oldest of three. We my parents had three kids and three years. So we are all really close in age. And thanks to them and their adventurous spirit. They believed that moving halfway across the world with three kids under five and one who was newly diagnosed with autism was a fantastic I DIA and adventure. So there we were, we went from Chicago to just south of London. Actually, we were about 30 minutes outside of the city in the country. And I spent the majority of my formative years there. We were there for almost a decade. So I grew up in all girls school school uniforms. I promise I did have a really great British accent back in the day. I’ve unfortunately, lost it, which makes my story a lot less cool. But we you could go back and get it. I could you know, it’s hard to fake. Sometimes it comes out naturally, but I can’t force it. Yeah. I’ve realized that the hard way. It sounds really silly if I tried to just make it be.
**Michael Hingson ** 03:45
So you go ahead. So you you live there until you’re but probably close to 15 or so. Yeah,
**Jackie Celske ** 03:51
closer to 14. So I moved back to the states, middle of junior high. So talk about shock to the system. And we actually we did not move back to Chicago. So my relatives were all in a very small farming community in Western Illinois. So we moved to the small farming town in the middle of my junior high years. And, you know, I went from all girls school to boys in the classroom who were riding their tractors to school and everybody looking exactly the same. And the whole town being pretty much made up of about five different families. So completely opposite experiences. But I haven’t ventured too far from that little community since we moved back. So I now live about 45 minutes 15 minutes north of that little town and have made this area my home since then.
**Michael Hingson ** 04:44
So what kind of work did your parents do when you’re growing up that cause them to move to England and then back and so on?
**Jackie Celske ** 04:54
Yeah, great question. My, you know, we always get asked if my dad is in the military, he was Not he actually worked in finance. So in Chicago, he worked on the Chicago Board of Options Exchange floor and was a stock, an options trader. And so I always forget exactly which job opportunity it was that took him over there. But I think he was offered a originally a one year opportunity to work for a bank, over in the UK, and we went for the year and then my parents just really loved it and ended up staying a lot longer.
**Michael Hingson ** 05:28
What’s not to love and what a great adventure. It
**Jackie Celske ** 05:32
sure was, you know, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I love England, I still try to go back about once a year. I’ve got a lot of great friends over there. Well,
**Michael Hingson ** 05:40
and I’m glad that you, you have friends, you have people that you know, and that you have those memories, and you keep building on them, which is which is really great. But when he moved or when they moved back and brought you are back to the States, was he still doing finance or what did he do? When you guys moved to the little town in Illinois? What town? Was it?
**Jackie Celske ** 06:03
The name of the town is Alito
**Michael Hingson ** 06:05
Lido. Okay. Yeah. So when you move to Alito, what, what did he do? So
**Jackie Celske ** 06:11
at my dad actually quit the work that he was doing at the time. So it was we moved in the year 2000, which, you know, if you’re familiar with the stock market, trading floors were becoming obsolete at that time, the, that whole industry was completely changing. So I think my dad was ahead of the curve there a little bit and saw that coming and decided, you know, we just need to make a change. And so and in addition to his job changes, I have a younger sibling with autism. My brother Matt, who is just the coolest person I’ve ever met, and Matt was in a special school for kids with autism over in the UK, their special education system is drastically different than what we’re used to here in the US. And so the conversation opened up to, you know, do we move back here and potentially explore transitioning Matt into mainstream school. And that was how we identified Alito as the place to go, I had an aunt, who at the time was a fifth grade teacher, and Matt would have been going into fifth grade that year. And we decided as a family that it made a lot of sense to help him through that transition with somebody he knows and, you know, familiar family member. And so I think those two things combined lots of things changing in my dad’s career and world and just the needs of our unique family.
**Michael Hingson ** 07:39
So what did he go into for a career?
**Jackie Celske ** 07:43
Oh, golly, that could be a whole other podcast interview. He’s, if you think my announcement last week was a shock. My dad’s been all over. I think I get a little bit of that from him. But he ended up actually becoming mayor of our little town Alito, for a while while I was in high school. And that took us on a host of other adventures. The Lido actually has a sister city in Spain, a lado Spain and so we were able to go over there and they treated us like we were the president of the United States. It was just the coolest trip of all time, from little dinky Alito, Illinois, but so he he was in politics and local government for a while. He has started a few different businesses. I guess kind of there’s been a running theme in the construction world. So he has since now moved to Florida, and received his general contractor’s license. So he’s running a business down there building really beautiful homes in the southwest area of Florida.
**Michael Hingson ** 08:48
And your mom. Yeah,
**Jackie Celske ** 08:50
my mom. So my mom while we were growing up was actually a stay at home mom, with everything going on with my brother. She was just the champion for us kids growing up. And in England, the school system is different also. So we had three kids go into three different schools in our lives were just pretty chaotic over there. And then when we moved back here, my mom ended up in higher education. So she actually has her doctorate in instructional design. And so she is is really into all things training and does a lot of advocacy work and she now since they moved to Florida works for their amazing church and their community. We’re in Florida today. They are in Cape Coral, which is right next to Fort Myers, right. Okay.
**Michael Hingson ** 09:40
I was in Fort Myers speaking a few years ago it’s been three or four years but it was a good time of year it wasn’t too hot and to humans, so
**Jackie Celske ** 09:49
I kept roughly when it’s not too hot.
**Michael Hingson ** 09:53
Yeah, when the book when the bugs have decided that it’s not the great weather it is a lovely place in a good time to be there.
**Jackie Celske ** 09:59
Yes. It is I always say I have great vacation spots. Thanks to my family. I’ve got family in Florida and family in Nashville, Tennessee area.
**Michael Hingson ** 10:07
And friends in London and yes, exactly. I
**Jackie Celske ** 10:10
know there. You’re right. Yes, exactly.
**Michael Hingson ** 10:13
So for you, so you have a brother and as your other sibling, a brother or sister,
**Jackie Celske ** 10:19
my youngest sibling is a sister.
**Michael Hingson ** 10:21
So you have a sister and a brother. That’s pretty cool.
**Jackie Celske ** 10:23
I know best of both worlds, one of each. And we are all very close. We call ourselves the Celski trio. So my poor brother in law is trying to assimilate into that club, most of his life, and he puts up with us pretty well. We all have our challenges. Yes, yes, for sure. What
**Michael Hingson ** 10:41
was it like when you move back to the US as a young teenager in terms of assimilating back into the culture of the US as opposed to what you had experienced in England,
**Jackie Celske ** 10:51
it was incredibly difficult. So if you can imagine I had a very noticeable British accent. I had never been, you know, I had a brother, but I had a brother with autism and special needs. And so my experience around boys for preteen boys was very minimal. And the educational system in the UK is drastically different as well, they’re a little bit advanced in some ways. So they start school sooner. So I was actually a couple of grades ahead, book wise, if you want to say it that way. But maturity level was the same as any other kid my age. So my parents, you know, what I’m thankful for this did decide to keep me in the grade level for my age, instead of accelerating my education in high school at age, you know, 13 or 14, being too early or too young for that. So I was able to at least hang out with kids my age, but it just was incredibly difficult to be in a place where I stood out so much, I remember we moved in August of that year of so right before the school year started, by Christmas, I had a completely a complete American accent, I just forced myself to change my outward identity very quickly, because it made it difficult for people to see me as me, I just, I was too different. You know, and I think, that experience at an early age. And now also, in my adult years, seeing how I’m treated differently in both countries, when I appear as either American or British. You know, I remember what it’s like to be in England as a Brit, and how people treat you and now how they treat me as an American tourist when I go and same here. And so I think I just became hyper aware at a young age that about this, the concept of identity, and this idea of communication and the way we interact with each other and why that matters. And it also happened to be at the forefront of social media and instant messaging. And so I was kind of in the middle of this first wave of digital communication, which was amazing, I was able to stay in touch with some of my friends in England, but I was also being introduced to some of that cyber bullying and that anonymous kind of attack. And it was really easy for people to, you know, have negative comments, or essentially just pick on me as a young kid for what I sounded like, or what I looked like, or the things that I wanted to wear. And you know, I had grown up with school uniforms. So I had no idea. I had no concept of cool clothing I didn’t, I had to figure out a whole different way to really express outwardly who I was as a person. And I remember being so excited about my first day of school and Aledo wearing this glittery butterfly shirt that I picked out at Walmart and I had no idea that you absolutely do not buy your shirts from Walmart as a 13 year old kid. So it just was all downhill from there. It was a really, for me, it was incredibly challenging. And I think I struggled a lot more than both of my siblings after talking to them about their experience. They just seemed to assimilate a little bit quicker because they were younger. And some of those preteen cultural norms hadn’t really started for them yet.
**Michael Hingson ** 14:36
Now you move back, you said in 2000. Yes. Okay. So what immediately comes to mind, I want to come back and talk about Matt a little bit in a sec. But one of the things that must have been in ways you look back on it fascinating, although I don’t know whether that be the right word to use or not is. So the next year of course, September 11 happened What was that like? So you and all the folks in Lido? Oh
**Jackie Celske ** 15:03
gosh, yeah, that’s a great question. I just remember being very scared. You know, we, my parents are very proud Americans and did. As much as I became a very British child, I was also a very proud American child who just happened to live in the UK. So, I mean, we celebrated Fourth of July and Thanksgiving and things over there that are a little bit frowned upon for the typical Brits. But you know, I did have a very lot of pride about being American, even at that age. And despite the fact that I grew up in a different country. And so I think I shared similar emotions, as many of the people in our town and in some ways, I almost think that United that little community a lot more than it had ever been, or at least for a really long time, because that was just one moment in history. I remember us all being the same. United Yes, yes.
**Michael Hingson ** 16:12
We’re, we’re a mirror Americans, generally well respected and, and welcomed, let’s say pre 2000 wings, do you think
**Jackie Celske ** 16:23
I, you know, in my case, I was a child. So it’s a little bit harder to know, for sure. I mean, our friends over there in the UK, were they just welcomed us with open arms. And I had a very positive experience being American over there. I think the area in which we lived was also, it’s just very common to have what we would probably call transplant families. So our group of friends were all families who had moved from other countries. And so we were all in some ways, going through the same experiences together, and sharing in those learning curves, or, you know, celebrating our heritage and things together, which was really special. And then moving to small town, Illinois, completely different. There was nobody had really ever left that city, it was almost the opposite. So new people didn’t come in and people didn’t leave. And so from my experience, and where we just happen to live in the UK, I always had a very positive.
**Michael Hingson ** 17:30
Well, I’ll tell you why. I’ll tell you why I asked the question. The one of my salespeople who I hired why I always say as the best sales guy ever hired, when we were doing product trainings for him at the time, and quantum wasn’t international company, the blast, best place for him to go to get the media training to be able to start to really sell or, and he had actually been selling for a while. But then the training opportunity came along was London. So he went over and visited the quantum folks in London. And whenever he would go to a bar, he was a sports guy. So he liked to go to sports bars and stuff. But if he went into a bar, and they discovered they had a Yank in their midst, he said, I was treated like royalty everywhere I went. And, and so you know, I’m curious. And the reason for thinking about all of this was, Do you think that’s changed a lot over the years that, that it’s any different or people still, probably whatever they were about the same as they were before in terms of dealing with Americans and all that. I mean, our world has just gotten so crazy in so many different ways. I’m just curious to get your perceptions on internationally or in England, if things are different than they used to be, do you think? Yeah,
**Jackie Celske ** 18:58
I would say yes. A resounding yes. I mean, I feel the differences when I go over and visit. And you know, I’m obviously very familiar with where I’m going, when I’m over there. I’m not necessarily going as a tourist, I’m going most of the time just to visit people and maybe go back to my favorite places. But I tend to perceive that the Brits think we are just kind of arrogant and annoying and would prefer we just kind of get out of the way and not be there a lot of the times and so with my friend group over there, it’s just a running joke and especially with the political climate of our current politics, so yes, that definitely, I think contributes to it. I mean, I will say the last election, my I had several friends saying we’re just over here eating our bowl of popcorn watching the US like it’s a movie right now. So it’s almost as if they don’t take us too seriously. But I do think There is respect for the independent lifestyle that we live in some of the autonomy we have in, in our culture over here that they don’t always experience over in the UK or in Europe in general. And vice versa, I’ve learned, I’ve developed a very deep respect for the way that they value work life balance, that we don’t get right here, in my personal opinion. So I agree. Yeah, I think I have the luxury of having exposure to both sides and getting to understand what is really great about both countries, and not everybody gets to experience it that way.
**Michael Hingson ** 20:43
So what is it? What would you say the work life balance is like over there as opposed to here?
**Jackie Celske ** 20:50
Very healthy, they just value relationships and people in a different way, in my opinion, I they get a lot more time off work, they are nobody there is overworked, which I think can be perceived as almost laziness, sometimes to us. But you know, there’s nobody getting physically and mentally unwell from work. I mean, I’m sure there are I shouldn’t make extreme claims like that. But the cases of you know, mental health concerns from work or physical. You know, well being issues and concerns that can come from overly stressed workloads, they just don’t seem to have that same experience there. And my friends are just always traveling always on vacation, they typically work shorter work weeks, they get much more time off with their kids. You know, both both the women and men getting up to a year off when, after giving birth. A lot more quality time with the people that are important to you. And I, in my opinion, that’s really what life is about. You
**Michael Hingson ** 22:05
traveled much to other places other than just London or England into other parts of Europe.
**Jackie Celske ** 22:10
I have Yeah, I have. And I think you know, it’s not true across the entirety. But I’ve been to probably 10 or more other countries, so. And a lot of my friends from the UK actually live all across the world now too. So I kind of get their indirect experience from the new places that they’ve moved to as well. Maybe
**Michael Hingson ** 22:34
you think about the whole thing that’s been in the news occasionally, over the past few months about the whole issue in France, where they want to raise the minimum retirement age from 62 to 64. That’s gotten pretty violent.
**Jackie Celske ** 22:49
Yes, it has. Yeah. And I don’t know what I don’t know if I have a specific personal opinion yet. I think I’m still forming that myself. Every I don’t. And I also am not as familiar with France as I would be with the UK and how that’s all structured. But gosh, yeah, it’s just in Europe is interesting, because similar to the US, when you think about how different all of our states are, you know, that’s what it’s like over there, it’s just on a more extreme level, you’re not just crossing a border to another state, you’re crossing a border to a different world, almost, they speak a completely different language and have completely different cultural norms. And so, within a matter of, you know, hours, you can be in a completely different place that just where people don’t think like you act like you talk like you. And that’s something that I don’t think Americans can really even fathom unless they’ve left the US, or
**Michael Hingson ** 23:48
they don’t spend enough time thinking about the possibility. That’s the case. And as a result, they’re less prone and think, in large part, to understand it. And I know for me, I have a hard time understanding the whole issue of just so you’re moving from 62 to 64 is the minimum retirement age. Why is it so violent, but at the same time, I also realize that’s a marked difference for them. And it’s no different than with anyone else. A lot of times, no matter what we say we really don’t like a lot of change. No,
**Jackie Celske ** 24:30
I know humans don’t really appreciate change. We certainly do. Yeah. Yes, yeah, it’s the change is hard. Change is very hard. Yeah.
**Michael Hingson ** 24:41
Well, tell me a little bit more about growing up with math that had to have some influence in shaping your life and your outlooks and so on. Having a brother who has autism, what was that like?
**Jackie Celske ** 24:54
Yeah, you know, I actually think Matt helped me find My life, passion and my life’s work. So his specific diagnosis, I think when he was about two or three, in the early 90s was a time when people didn’t really understand autism much at all. And so my mom will recount the doctor saying, you know, your son is going to be institutionalized, and he’s never going to do any of the things that you think he’s going to be able to do. And my mom just looked at them in the eye and said, No, you’re wrong. And
**Michael Hingson ** 25:34
where have I heard that story? We’ll see, same thing my parents did. Yeah,
**Jackie Celske ** 25:40
I remember that. When we first connected I remember you sharing something similar and the power in those words, man when I think about it now. Thank God for my mom. Right. I mean, Matt was very behind at when we were in the UK, he, like I said, he went to a school for children with autism, and most of them were nonverbal. So Matt was developing very slowly, he was nonverbal for quite a while, and then when he did begin to speak, it didn’t, you know, it didn’t often make a lot of sense, we used a what they call over there Makaton sign language to communicate with him. We had a very, I would love to see one of these now. But we had almost like a digital tablet, from the 90s that had pictures on it. So he could press things that he wanted to, you know, if he wanted french fries that day or something, but he had a lot of the just stereotypical repetitive behaviors. He was incredibly tactfully defensive. And so you couldn’t even touch him with the tip of your finger without him screaming. And so my mom, she dedicated her a solid 1015 years of her life, to just care for my brother and find the best resources for him. I mean, she would brush his body with a hairbrush several times a day, she would take him to the movie theater and train him on how to adapt to the overstimulation of the loud sound. You know, we laugh about it now that Matt would only eat Mcdonald’s chicken nuggets, we would go to McDonald’s and buy like 4020 packs of nuggets and have a freezer full of those chicken nuggets for years. That’s all guity. And by he started to show these just magnificent gifts. And one of them was his ability to understand directions. So we would go on a road trip as a family, we’d come home, and before he could even really speak, he would take printer paper, lay it out on the floor. And he would to scale draw out and map out the trip that we had just taken. And I remember, as he began to communicate verbally a little bit more, I remember him just randomly saying things like, oh, you know, there was 34,000 dotted yellow lines on that street that we just drove by. It just hit the way that his brain worked, he would memorize the TV Guide. You know, most people don’t remember having TV guys, but you know, those giant thick books that would tell you everything that’s on the TV for the month on every channel. And Matt would memorize that. And we could ask him, you know, next next week on Saturday, what is on at 8pm on these three channels, and he would know, he just had a photographic memory. So he could read Yes, he could read. Yes. So he started to to show abilities in his communication that I think were being stunted at the school that he was at. And that was kind of the catalyst for my parents in their decision to you know, he’s never going to be pushed and challenged in the way that he needs to be unless he is surrounded by all types of kids, not just kids who have autism. And we need to find a way to get them into mainstream schooling. And so they don’t do that. As far as I know, at least in the region we were at in the UK, they that wasn’t an option for him with his diagnosis. So moving to Alito, he transitioned at first into fifth grade with my aunt as his teacher and he had a full time aide. And, you know, I remember I remember I was just saying he was tactfully defensive as a child and you couldn’t hug him. You couldn’t touch him. Well, by the time he was a senior in high school, he was an AB student with no aid, a varsity wrestler. He was the lead in the school musical and just an all around stellar, teenage kid just have All the things that a kid should be doing, you know, you’re
**Michael Hingson ** 30:03
absolutely right. He needed to be in that environment just stimulating. Yeah. Yeah, it was the musical.
**Jackie Celske ** 30:11
He was in well, he was in the musical every year, but he was guest on and Beauty and the Beast. Oh, okay. And he did a great job. He did a wonderful job.
**Michael Hingson ** 30:21
Even though he didn’t get the girl in the end. No.
**Jackie Celske ** 30:23
And he played the wizard and the Wizard of Oz as well, trying to think which other ones but he he would always be in the talent shows. And yeah, he’s got perfect pitch is another just wonderful gift with his autism. So his musical talent is just absolutely phenomenal. And he went on to get a four year college degree, and he is just a lovely young man. Now he get a major in music business. Makes sense? Yes. Yes. He’s not doing that professionally right now. But he has a lot of interests in that field still. So on the side, he and I dabble in kind of writing songs and making little music videos and mashups, and things just for fun, as well, right?
**Michael Hingson ** 31:12
Well, you, you obviously had a lot of challenges to overcome and moving back and just being a teenager and going through all the things that you did, much less Matt, but Matt sounds like, as I would describe it a whole lot more of a blessing than, than a lot of people might think. And so yeah, he had autism. And so what, he’s come through it, you’ve come through it, and it’s made a whole big difference in your life and how you look at things, which is really cool. So what kinds of did well have challenges or what major things happen to you personally, as a teenager, and in school, and and growing up? Once you move back?
**Jackie Celske ** 31:55
Yeah, I, I mentioned that, you know, Matt helped me identify this curiosity, I would say about communication and words and stories. And, you know, one thing that was really challenging for me moving back to the states, coming from the education system that I was in, I gravitated towards older groups. So as a freshman in high school, for example, my core group of friends were all of the seniors. And that just felt more natural to me, that’s kind of at the level I had been at in school in the UK. And so I was hanging out with kids that were just probably too old for me at 13 and 14 years old, and getting exposed to things at too young of an age, not that kid should be exposed to anything bad as a teenager, but just hanging with the crowd that I shouldn’t have been with yet. And unfortunately, as a sophomore in high school, I found myself at a party with some friends and was we still don’t know a lot of the details about that event. But I remember waking up, away from the party away from my friends, I had been drugged with something and was very brutally sexually assaulted that evening by multiple people who know me and knew me well enough to drop me off at my house at the end of the evening.
**Michael Hingson ** 33:25
Even though they did what they did, yes,
**Jackie Celske ** 33:27
yes. And so that for me, that was the turning point in my life. And I honestly would say I would say, I’m not sure I’ve, I really even began to fully wholly heal from that until about a year or two ago. It just changed the trajectory of, of everything for me. And the first time I talked to an adult about it, you know, the words were basically, I don’t believe you. And you know, I talked about the power of words. I mean, those words changed the trajectory of the next several years for me as well. And so I found myself pretty shortly after that event, just having really extreme physical medical challenges that were unexplainable. I was at the doctor all the time, I was getting sick all the time. And it wasn’t until I was 19 when I had a part of my intestines collapsed, so I needed a pretty immediate surgery. And the doctor asked my mom to leave the room. And it was that doctor who actually asked, all right, what has happened here because we don’t see internal damage like this. In somebody or age and less. There’s been a lot of trauma. And that was the first time I really started opening up so that had been three years.
**Michael Hingson ** 34:56
What were your parents thinking or thoughts about it? So
**Jackie Celske ** 35:00
I, my mom knew a little bit, my dad actually did not even know me. I never shared it with him until I was in my 20s it was a very difficult thing for me to talk about. And I, like I said, when I started to speak up, it was not well received, I was not getting the support I needed, I was not given access to resources to heal and get help. And so that just really shut me down. And my coping mechanism was to just, you know, get involved in everything in school and be tried to be the perfect student and the perfect teenager and the perfect big sister and I just distracted myself with all of those things in life, and my physical health became such a distraction, honestly, that I didn’t understand the connection between the mental health aspect of what I had gone through, and how that was impacting my body, on a physical level for many, many years, and my family was amazing at supporting me and getting the help I needed physically. But we just didn’t connect the dots for a really long time. And it took a lot of really hard years and multiple surgeries and multiple doctor visits and trips to different medical systems to really figure that out.
**Michael Hingson ** 36:33
And I would imagine no more parties for Jackie for a while. No,
**Jackie Celske ** 36:37
no. Yeah, it was. It, you know, in some ways, I remember every detail of the event. And in some ways, I don’t it’s, they I’ve learned now that that’s really common for sexual assault and trauma survivors to remember very specific details, but not the actual moment of the. So I’ve written a lot about that and spoken a lot on that. As part of just my advocacy and awareness,
**Michael Hingson ** 37:07
and your healing, yes to talking about it helps. And I mean, I, it’s not my place to make you just talk a lot about it. But talking about that kind of thing, or whatever goes on in your life always has to help. I know that. And I love to say this that I chose to let people interview me after September 11. And I believe that I did so much better by allowing the media to come into our home and ask me questions, because I got to ask all sorts of questions, some even really intelligent questions, but a lot of questions just about September 11, and anything you could possibly imagine. And occasionally, even now, I’ll get a question that I have been asked before, but it doesn’t happen very often. But still talking about it was the best thing.
**Jackie Celske ** 38:00
Yeah, it’s I, I’m a big advocate for either writing or, or verbally talking through your story. For me, support groups. And that kind of community was the best way for me to do that. Because I could sit in a room. And if I didn’t feel like speaking, there was still someone next to me, who had a similar lived experience and their words often helped me process, what was going on in my brain. And you know, maybe they were at a different stage of that processing than I was. And so listening and learning from what worked with other for other people, was a huge healing step for me. And that’s why I’m just such a big advocate for stories and words. Now, I mean, words are so powerful. And the stories we tell are so powerful, and they’re, they’re what bring us together. They’re what, you know, we said at the beginning, it’s what unites us it it’s what makes us better, more self aware human beings. And we just go about the world as better people that way. And
**Michael Hingson ** 39:07
I’m a firm believer that everyone has a story to tell. And sometimes people save when we discuss them coming on the podcast. Oh, my story isn’t interesting. It’s just like everybody else. And I said, No cheer story. And sometimes they’ll not want to come on. They just don’t want to get past that. But I’ve been blessed that lots of people do come on and tell their stories. And the reality is everyone’s story is different. And my job is to help people communicate and tell their story and help to inspire because I think that most of us could be a whole lot more unstoppable than we think we can and I mean that in a very positive way in stories help that.
**Jackie Celske ** 39:46
I 100% agree and honestly, that was what made me really excited to be on your podcast because I have not written a book. I have not founded a nonprofit. I have not On on to transform this trauma into something above and beyond, I have just learned how to find my own purpose in it, how to heal so that I am the best version of myself. And I just choose to, you know, use it as part of the one chapter in how I got to who Jackie is today. And I haven’t done anything more than that with it. And I think that’s an equally important for people to hear. Because you know, there are people out there doing amazing things from the trauma that they’ve experienced in life. But it’s also amazing, to just keep going, and to survive through it and to be on the other side of it. And to keep learning about yourself and learning about what helps you feel better, and how to help other people feel better, that is equally amazing and powerful. So it’s not about what you do to change the world. You know, in a big grandiose way we can change the world, in our own small ways every single day when we choose to take care of ourselves.
**Michael Hingson ** 41:13
And amazing is such a sometimes overly used word. And the fact is, what you just said is absolutely correct. It doesn’t need to be that amazing as well. Because you go out and you speak and you do all sorts of different things to tell the world about what you do or don’t do. Ultimately, it’s how you feel it’s in your brain that really matters in the fact that you’re able to move forward. And also, I think it’s it’s good that you recognize that, that it’s really how you approach it and how you feel with it. And that the amazing part is that you do it. And it’s something that we all ought to learn a lot more about, and grow to understand. Yeah,
**Jackie Celske ** 41:57
I think so too. I’ve listened to several of your guests, interviews, as well. And I’ve learned a lot from their perspective and experiences to on just different resources or different tips and tricks on you know how to minimize stress or how to focus on, you know, I listened to I think it was Jennifer’s interview that was a day or two ago. And I also tried EMDR. And I was listening to her experience with EMDR. And how it was it was different from mine. And that was really interesting to me to just know that we both benefited from it for different reasons. And, and she goes and shares that as a resource to other people. And I do the same. And so it’s those small moments of exchange in those small stories, I think that are the most impactful.
**Michael Hingson ** 42:42
Yeah, I talked with someone just yesterday about sound wellness and how different sounds affects us. And what affects some of us one way with a particular sound or set of sounds is totally different to someone else. Like I’m not a great fan of heavy metal, and that kind of music. But some other people are. And that’s okay. I can appreciate it. It is still whether I like to think so or not. Heavy Metal is music, and I appreciate that it’s music. It’s different than what I like, but that’s okay.
**Jackie Celske ** 43:18
Yeah, exactly. We just need to be okay with it being okay. Right. That’s, that’s the lesson I think
**Michael Hingson ** 43:25
I haven’t really totally come to grips of thinking that rap is music in the same way that heavy metal and other kinds of music or music because it’s so much more talking. And yes, there’s a there’s music in the background. But the main part of it isn’t necessarily singing. But that may be me. And it may be that the definition of music is just changing from what it used to be. But I’m, I’m still working on that.
**Jackie Celske ** 43:50
Well, you’ll have to hang out with me a little bit more because I like to write parody rap songs for fun. I’ve been known to do a surprise parody rap speech or for internal communications, messaging it at work or something, I will dress up and help communicate a message in a very unique and memorable way just for fun. And so I think, you know, I’ve never been a fan of rap myself. But getting to put a little jakie twist on it like that has made me appreciate it and have a lot of fun with it.
**Michael Hingson ** 44:22
I think rap is absolutely an art form. I’m just not sure that I would classify it as music. I think it’s an art form. It’s a wonderful art form. I’ve listened to some rap, you know, rap songs or rap music or whatever you want to call it. And clearly the people are very intelligent. They’re talking about their life experiences, and are doing it in a very articulate way. So I think it’s an art form. I’m just not sure I put it in the category of music as such.
**Jackie Celske ** 44:50
And that’s where words matter, right? Whether it’s music at all. Yeah.
**Michael Hingson ** 44:58
It does. Well, you been through a lot? What kind of advice would you give to someone who’s maybe been through some of the kinds of things that you have? Whether they’ve gotten the support or not? What would you encourage people to do to help them move through some of this stuff a little bit more effectively?
**Jackie Celske ** 45:14
Yeah, that’s an excellent question. I think, to me, it always depends on where you’re at in your journey. I think if you are actively surviving something really hard, right? Now, then, first and foremost, you need to take care of yourself, and you need to sleep and you need to eat well, and you need to get some exercise and all the basic foundational things to just keep yourself well. And give your body and your mind the best chance at making it through the challenge ahead of you. I think if you are somebody who is, you know, maybe a little bit further along the journey, and just wants to continue healing and continue growing, I am a huge believer in practicing gratitude. And, you know, again, I think somebody recently on your podcast was talking about morning and evening routines and making intentional time in the day to stop and just appreciate the good that is happening around you. However small or however big. I’m a huge believer in the power of humor, I think the ability to laugh at ourselves is what humbles us, it’s what makes stories and human connection a little bit more approachable when we talk about hard subjects like this. So, you know, for me, I battled this autoimmune disease for almost 20 years after that sexual assault that I really am only just now, realizing what that is, and what that means. But one of the organs that was significantly affected was my bladder. And so I genuinely used to pee my pants, quite often, I used to have accidents at work or in professional settings. And I just had to laugh about it. And it, it became something that, you know, my friends and peers and co workers could ask about because it was I made it a safe thing to talk about. And when I had an implant put on my spinal cord to help regulate some of those issues. I named him Pedro. So that when I started talking about Pedro, people would say, well, who’s Pedro, and then it would open a conversation, right, so that I could approach really tough subjects. But, you know, I love I love the power of humor, and jokes. And so if you think about the word humor, and humility that both of those words, actually the origin is the same, and it comes from humanity. So when you want to go back to the power of words, you know, those are two powerful words right there. It’s what our shared human experience is all about. So and then I guess, ultimately, I would always encourage people to just find ways to mitigate and control and minimize your stress. If I’ve learned anything, in the last couple of years, or even the last couple of weeks, with some of the big life changes I made, it’s that the energy you surround yourself with is really important. Whether that’s the people or your work environment, your home and where you live, just making sure that you’re creating happy spaces for yourself and safe spaces for you to be yourself where you can be vulnerable. When you need to be when you can be authentic, and your true self and your best self. I think that is really important.
**Michael Hingson ** 48:38
You went off to college, and you learned a lot about communications, and certainly learned a lot about how to interact with people. And that certainly has to help shape some of your thinking. But you you have come a long way in in your, your journey in terms of getting better and improving and so on. But you You keep saying especially in the last couple of years, how come so much so quickly lately?
**Jackie Celske ** 49:07
Yeah, great question as it again, probably a podcast interview all on, its on its own, but I can shorten it to the best of my ability. So early in 2022. Actually, my medical condition was deteriorating really quickly. So I mentioned I had what we understood to be at the time, actually a neurological disease. So for about 20 years, my doctors were suggesting that I had something wrong with my nervous system. And we were treating it as such. So I would have days where my legs would not work or certain organs would be shutting down for no reason, no apparent reason and it wasn’t until early 2022 I just became so sick and so unwell that my doctors here locally who had seen me for about 16 years, threw their hands up in the air and we’re out of ideas and I did not know what the next step was going to be. So I decided to quit my job here in Iowa, I moved to Florida where to be with my family. And I just prayed that I would find a new doctor down there who might have a different idea. And man did I get lucky I was at such a point of desperation I had, I’ve found one doctor down there, we tried a couple additional surgeries. So I had two surgeries and 2022. And the implant that I had on my spinal cord was replaced in hopes that that would maybe make a difference. It did not. And so I found myself calling doctors to try to have organs removed. I mean, I was at a very desperate level, just not well, and I came across an article in a medical journal, about a woman who sounded very similar to me. And she was claiming that she had been cured by this doctor by this experimental treatment. And so I called their office completely in tears. And he, I understood him to be a leukemia doctor, so he specialized in bone marrow transplants, and I just thought, you know, he’s not going to see me, I don’t have cancer, this isn’t going to work out. And to my surprise, they, he and his receptionist are both from the UK, ironically. And we just bonded over the phone about that. And they said, You know what, come on, in we, we would love to speak with you. So I drove about three and a half hours to the other side of the state of Florida and met with his team. And he was able to do some testing on my immune system. It was the first time in about 20 years that any doctor had identified on paper, what was actually wrong with me. So my immune system had been so severely damaged from all of the trauma and all of the stress that my body had been under for the last two decades, that it had aged to the point of, you know, I should have been about 90 to 100 years old with what the data was showing. So all of the illnesses I was acquiring inside my body had nowhere to go, my body wasn’t fighting them. And then those, that bacteria that those viruses were living in my nervous system, which is what was causing all of the physical symptoms I was experiencing. So he offered to try the experimental treatment. But you know, obviously, we couldn’t guarantee it would work. But it was a combination of infusions and injections for multiple weeks at a time. So I would get a PICC line put into my arm, similar to chemotherapy type treatment. And I was all on board. The only challenge in my way was that, of course, insurance did not cover it. And it was going to be a crazy expense for me and my family. And we decided, You know what, let’s just tell Jackie’s story. And let’s see what happens. And this just beautiful community was formed around me sharing my story, and we were able to raise, I think we’re up to about $45,000 in my GoFundMe, my friends back home hosted a benefit for me, and we raised another 10 or so $1,000 to help me pay for that first round of treatment, which cost a little over 80,000 the first time. And that was the biggest blessing I could have ever asked for because I came out of that treatment with almost all of the damage to my immune system reversed. And unfortunately, we just we couldn’t do any more at the time financially. So I was feeling a lot better, I decided to move back home. And what we found was that because we didn’t complete the entirety of the treatment, I just continued to regress after moving back home. So earlier in 2023, March, I went back down and we completed another round and we extended it this time. So I had to take a second mortgage out on my house to make that happen and you know, make a big gamble on myself, but it paid off because going for that extra amount of treatment, we were able to hopefully knock on wood permanently reverse the damage in my immune system. And it has so far cured me of almost all of the physical impairments that I had been battling for about 20 years.
**Michael Hingson ** 54:28
On top of everything else you decided to go off and start your own business and quit what you’re doing before What were you doing and what did you quit? Yeah,
I did. So I like I said I was kind of in and out. I went from Iowa to Florida. I went to Florida over the last year and a half and so I moved back to Iowa for a while and started a job in higher education. discovered pretty quickly that that just was not for me. The particular culture of the place that I worked was a I’m very toxic and very unhealthy. And I started to develop stress and do seizures and other symptoms that were, you know, a clear sign that my body was not going to be well in this environment. And so I, in talking to my family and loved ones, I remember saying, you know, everyone was encouraging me to leave, I kept thinking, wow, that looks bad, I’ve been putting jobs right and left, I’m not sticking around anywhere very long. I don’t have a plan B. And somebody just said, Well, you have to be alive to have a plan B. There you go. And it was those words, again, going back to the power of words, that convinced me that I just, I needed to make a change, and I would figure it out. And so that’s what I did. I went in and quit pretty much the next day. A couple days later, I incorporated my own LLC, the PROSE, CO, and PROSE, which means written and spoken language. And I started my own communications and marketing firm. And now I’m a month into that, actually, this week will be an official month of full entrepreneurship. And I have already, you know, replaced my full time job income. And I’m already doing full time work with a host of different clients, wonderful, awesome clients that believe in me and chose to take this leap with me. So it’s been an exciting couple of months.
**Michael Hingson ** 56:28
That is really exciting. And so what what are you doing for customers now? Exactly? Yeah,
great question. So I chose the PROSE CO. A, because PROSE stands for basically communication. But PROSE is also an acronym for the different services that I provide. So P would be promotional communications, which was everything from website content, advertising and events. Are stands for relational communications. So for my nonprofit clients, that’s a lot of fundraising and stewardship strategy. For others. It’s more public and media relations. O stands for organizational. So that’s all things internal communications, from newsletters to change management, we laughed earlier about how difficult changes, helping to navigate that for some of our clients from a messaging standpoint, S is social media. So I do a lot of social media management, community management. And I love analytics. So diving into digital analytics is kind of my my thing. And then E stands for executive. So anything that we we call it transformational or inspirational. So I do everything from speech writing, to strategic planning, and brand strategy workshops. And I keep saying there’s just a giant plus sign on the end of that too, because already in my short month, I’ve had a lot of custom projects pop up that weren’t in that original scope that I had designed or imagined. So it’s just kind of ever evolving right now. But mainly, you know, the miss the mission of the Prosecco is to change the world through stories. That’s what I want to do. And anything that’s going to help tell a client’s brand story and help engage their clients in a way that goes beyond just creating a positive affinity towards that brand. But transforming that into some sort of action and change that’s going to move that mission forward is really ultimately what my goal is with this company.
**Michael Hingson ** 58:32
And you certainly have done something major to get rid of a lot of stress over which you don’t have any control over, you’re going to have challenges because you’re going to have deadlines, and you’re going to have people who want different things. But you are the one who set that up, which makes it just so much better than stress in an office environment where as you said, it can be very toxic.
**Jackie Celske ** 58:56
Yes, it sure does. I, you know, it’s a little bit more, there’s new challenges, right, which is kind of the fun of it. But it’s I’m asking myself silly things like do I want to just wear pajamas today? Or do I want to put normal pants on and go to the coffee shop, but it’s it’s a little bit of a different level of stress. But, you know, ultimately, I I want to provide the top quality service to clients that I can. And I’m very fortunate to have a great network, the community that I live in, where there’s several other freelancers. And we’ve all started partnering together so that we can still provide a full service agency experience, just at a lesser cost for clients essentially without that overhead. So it really does feel community and team driven, which is not what I was expecting branching off on my own. I thought I would be giving that part up and it almost feels like I’ve gained more of that than I had before. And it also feels like we’re really solving problems and we’re really meeting a need in our commune. Any that maybe wasn’t there before. So it’s, it’s exciting to be a part of it.
**Michael Hingson ** 1:00:03
That is super cool if people want to reach out to you and learn more about pros CO and maybe, hopefully work with you and use your services and so on, how do they do that? And how do they reach out to you and learn more about you, I
would love for people to reach out and just connect at a minimum share your stories doesn’t have to be for business purposes, formally, but my website is the proseco.com I keep joking that it’s basically the prosecco.com without the extra c, because I do love my Prosecco and wine. So it’s a good fit. But there’s a contact form on there. If folks want to reach out and just get connected there. They can also email me info at the pros wcco.com Or feel free to look me up on social media. I’m, I’m on most of them. And I’m Jackie Celske, I think I’m the only one in the world. So I’m pretty easy to find whether that’s a good thing or bad thing. So selfkey is spelled C E L, S K E.
**Michael Hingson ** 1:01:02
So its J A C K I E C E L S K E. Yes, perfect. Well, this has been absolutely wonderful. And I am so glad that we finally made connections. And if you want to come back on in the future, and continue the discussion and tell more of the story, whether you write a book or not, we’re glad to have you come back on but I bet one of these days you’ll decide to sit down and write it or find someone to help write a book and and help inspire other people. But whatever you do, you’ve already done such amazing stuff. And you’ve been so committed to making it happen. And that’s as good as anybody could ask for. So I really appreciate you being on and giving us so much of your time. Well,
**Jackie Celske ** 1:01:47
thank you so much. I think yeah, I’ve surprised myself in the last few weeks and months for sure. So who knows, I might surprise myself and do something like that one day, we’ll
**Michael Hingson ** 1:01:57
see. If you want to talk about it ever. Don’t hesitate to reach out.
**Jackie Celske ** 1:02:01
I thank you very much. And thank you for the platform and opportunity to just be part of this community that you’re building. It’s it’s been really special to me. So thank you. Well,
**Michael Hingson ** 1:02:09
this has been fun. Well, I hope that you’ve enjoyed listening to us and that you enjoyed everything that Jackie had to say I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to reach out you can email me, Michaelhi m i c h a e l h i accessibe A C C E S S I B E.com. Or go to or and go to our website, www dot Michael hingson H i n g s o n.com/podcast. Check out more episodes if you’re new. And if you’ve heard a bunch you can always go find them there easily anyway, we really appreciate it. Wherever you’re listening, please give us a five star rating. We all do appreciate that. And we do really want to hear your thoughts. And Jackie for you and all of you listening if you know of anyone else who we ought to have as a guest on unstoppable mindset, bring them on, we’d love to hear from other people. And we’d love to bring more people on and help inspire and motivate all of us because that’s really what it’s all about, and having fun. So you can’t do better than that. But Jackie, once more. I want to thank you for being on and hope we can do this again.
**Jackie Celske ** 1:03:15
I would love that. Thank you so much.
**Michael Hingson ** 1:03:20
You have been listening to the Unstoppable Mindset podcast. Thanks for dropping by. I hope that you’ll join us again next week, and in future weeks for upcoming episodes. To subscribe to our podcast and to learn about upcoming episodes, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com slash podcast. Michael Hingson is spelled m i c h a e l h i n g s o n. While you’re on the site., please use the form there to recommend people who we ought to interview in upcoming editions of the show. And also, we ask you and urge you to invite your friends to join us in the future. If you know of any one or any organization needing a speaker for an event, please email me at speaker at Michael hingson.com. I appreciate it very much. To learn more about the concept of blinded by fear, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com forward slash blinded by fear and while you’re there, feel free to pick up a copy of my free eBook entitled blinded by fear. The unstoppable mindset podcast is provided by access cast an initiative of accessiBe and is sponsored by accessiBe. Please visit
. AccessiBe is spelled a c c e s s i b e. There you can learn all about how you can make your website inclusive for all persons with disabilities and how you can help make the internet fully inclusive by 2025. Thanks again for Listening. Please come back and visit us again next week.