The morning ritual that keeps our new Life Kit host grounded
Here at Life Kit, we're all about growth and forward motion – both for our audience and for ourselves. So please join us in welcoming our new host Marielle Segarra to the Life Kit neighborhood! A regular host has long been a goal for our show, and we're thrilled to have Segarra lead the charge as we enter our next chapter.
Segarra joins NPR from Marketplace, where she covered money, finance and how the economy connects to our daily lives. Over the years, she's reported on the lack of paid family leave in the U.S., the role of makeup during a pandemic and the jarring experience of returning to the office in August 2020.
Her interests include yoga, running in her neighborhood park and finding new ways to get in touch with her Puerto Rican, German and Polish ancestry. She is based in New York City.
I talked to her about her hopes for this new role, her self-care routine and our joint love of Gilmore Girls. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What do you like most about Life Kit?
Life Kit is honest and vulnerable. Each episode feels like a kindness. The hosts are telling you: you're not alone. We've taken the time to figure out how to help you. We've got your back.
That's a lovely way to put it. Any favorite episodes?
Lately, episodes that have helped me be more present in my body. The episode on how to take a break from the internet reminded me that it's good to be away from my phone and unavailable sometimes.
The interview with Jenny Odell on how to pay attention to your surroundings was helpful to listen to before going on my recent trip to Paris. That episode inspired me to absorb what was in front of me with all of my senses, and then let that lead me to new places instead of being stuck to a map or a schedule. I was able to appreciate the experience more deeply.
You've reported on money, finance and the economy for over a decade. How did this beat change your attitude about the topic?
It helped me make the most prudent financial decisions I could while not having a lot of money. Suddenly, I could speak the language. Things like my health insurance plan, for example, started to make more sense to me.
That's one of the reasons I like to talk about money. Now that I have the keys to this locked door – and previously came from a place where I didn't understand it – I want to help people.
Is there anything from that world you hope to bring to Life Kit?
I'd love to do a personal finance series to help people tackle credit card bills or do their own taxes for free using IRS forms, not services like TurboTax or H&R Block. When you fill out your own tax forms, you start to understand more about how our tax system works and how to save money in the future.
A lot of our episodes center around self-care topics. What are your rituals for filling up your cup?
I have a morning ritual that involves an ancestral altar in my room that I'm looking at right now, actually. It has [photos of] different family members, the perfume stopper from my grandmother's perfume bottle. Every morning I say hello to [my ancestors]. I say their names. My family helps ground me, and doing this ritual helps me come back to myself.
Any life hacks you've been super into lately?
Bring zip-lock bags when you travel. You'll definitely use them — for that apple core or your socks that got wet in the rain or whatever other unexpected things that might need to be contained in plastic.
What were you like when you were a kid? Did you always want to be a journalist?
I was definitely that kid who would record herself giving fake broadcasts [of the news]. I won this essay-writing contest when I was in fifth grade and got a gift certificate to [the electronics store] P. C. Richard & Son. And so I bought a little tape recorder and used it to record interviews with people.
I also watched a lot of Gilmore Girls and I thought Rory Gilmore was the best.
I loved that show, too. Rory was a great writer and ended up becoming a journalist.
I thought I'd join my college newspaper like she did, but instead I joined the alt-rock radio station and that's how my audio journey began.
And now here you are at NPR! What's some career advice that helped you get to this point?
Just be yourself. Write like yourself, bring your authentic self when it's appropriate, and bring your ideas, even if they make you feel a little bit vulnerable.
Tune in to Life Kit on Monday to catch Segarra's first episode. And join us in welcoming her to the team. Send a message to her by emailing [email protected] with the subject line "For Marielle."
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