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How Karen Stays “Grounded in Gratitude”

Here’s how Karen, Head of Citizens Contact Center & Retail Transformation navigates her health journey - and how being grounded in gratitude, among other activities, is instrumental in her routine.

Balance is key, so I do many different things. I spend time with my kids, which always fills my cup. I exercise and spend time in nature. I love spending time at the ocean and in the mountains. In the winter, we all bundle up and hit the slopes over several weekends, enjoying the physical nature of skiing plus the incredible views! In the summer, our favorite annual trip to Block Island, RI, allows us to enjoy outdoor activities against the backdrop of the beautiful blue Atlantic Ocean. Both are good for the body and for the soul! I also like to run, lift weights and actively practice yoga.

I love to dance. I danced professionally full-time before joining Citizens and then part time until I turned 35 and had my first child. I’ve studied all kinds of dance including modern, contemporary, jazz, ballet, and tap and even taught dance at Broadway Dance Center in NYC—one of the most famous dance schools. In recent years, I’ve taken up ballroom dance classes with my husband and if there’s music playing at a party or a bar, you can expect me to be on the dance floor!

I’m committed to showing up as my “best self” to others, my family, my colleagues, my friends. I don’t want them to feel stressed out or chaotic after they have spent time with me. Instead, I want them to somehow feel seen, more at peace, and energized because they’ve been in my presence. It’s a lofty goal and I’m not always able to achieve it, but it’s my north star. It’s hard to be that positive force if you don’t fill your own cup.

I find time for wellness by prioritizing it. There’s no way around it. If I don’t carve out the time for it, it doesn’t happen. A few days a week, I’m up before the sun rises to work out. I have a simple mantra: “you are entirely up to you”. It’s sobering, but true. When you truly harness that truth, you act towards the things that are important to you. However, I also incorporate wellness into my day in very small ways. One of my best friends has this practice she calls recognizing the “mini joys”. What are the small ways you are already incorporating or could incorporate joy into your day? For me, it’s savoring that first cup of hot coffee in the morning. It’s putting my son on the bus once a week and watching him blow kisses to me out the back window as it drives away. It’s playing music and dancing with my husband in the kitchen, while we clean up from the day (and laughing together while our children yell “gross, mom and dad!”). These “mini joys” fill me with gratitude and give me a natural dopamine high.

My advice to fellow colleagues is to be kind to yourself. Even people you admire, stumble and struggle. While self-care can require some level of discipline and consistency, it doesn’t flourish if it’s accompanied by self-criticism! Be patient with yourself. Take deep breaths. That is where wellness begins.

Learn more about our commitment to colleague wellbeing here.