This interview is part of the Chasing Dreams interview series. I’ve interviewed a variety of entrepreneurs and small business owners who have chosen a different path in life in order to go after his or her dream career. Have an entrepreneur in mind you’d like to learn more about? Let me know! Today’s interview is with Chrissy Gruninger, a fellow member of the Female Entrepreneur Association. Chrissy is the founder of Sanguine Collective, as well as many other actions in the pursuit of a happy and whole life through intentional actions. We have a lot in common with a love for travel and intentional living, so I have a feeling you'll all enjoy her message as well!
At what point did you know you wanted to follow this career path? How did you know this was the right direction?
I’ve always loved writing and creating. I remember writing my first little “book” way back in Junior High but somewhere along the way, life went in a different direction. Then a few years back while I was in grad school and writing my thesis, I really felt called to write more and to create messages of happiness and harmony in the world. I started by writing a basic quarterly newsletter which turned into a blog and eventually I wrote several books on living intentionally and eco travel. What I like to call “eco wellness.”
When I sent one of my eco travel memoirs to a hospitality management firm in Costa Rica (as I had visited all their hotel properties), I was then contacted by the President of the company and offered a position in their online marketing department, managing all of their social media channels. I knew this was the right direction for me –creating content that I love and sharing stories of eco wellness with a worldwide audience.
It was only recently that I acknowledged (and accepted) that I’m a multi-passionate. When I realized that I wanted to both create harmony in the world as well as support others in doing the same, that is when everything finally fell into place and I started to feel like I was not only on more solid ground but had finally created my dream life.
What are the biggest struggles you've faced while trying to achieve your dreams?
About a year after I got the social media management position, I decided to move to Costa Rica. I didn’t realize however that the combination of starting my own business AND living in a foreign country would be such a major (and challenging) adjustment. Not only was I spending an enormous amount of time trying to grow the business, I was also living in a totally different culture (one that I’m still trying to understand, 3+ years later).
To make matters worse, at the time, I had no idea of the concept of an “ideal client” and I was running into a lot of problems with working with clients who were really not a good fit for me or my business. That caused lots of time to be wasted and many headaches.
Owning your own business can be tough on the body and mind, between long days, instability and really putting yourself out there to reach your goals. How do you stay healthy? Do you have any rituals that help you stay centered?
I love my yoga practice. I live it every day, on and off the mat. I also love being in nature. Fortunately, living in Costa Rica, I’m surrounded by the natural world. It helps bring me back to my center. At times, I’ll admit it can be distracting – wild monkeys running around and macaws squawking in a nearby tree. But that is what helps keep me grounded and a reminder of why I’m doing this work – to create more harmony and wellness for all.
Speaking of putting yourself out there, overcoming rejection is a big part of chasing dreams. How do you bounce back?
In the beginning, it was really hard on me and I took everything personally. Over time, I began to realize that it usually wasn’t about me, or that maybe the client just wasn’t a good fit.
Most of the clients I have now, I’ve had for several years, and I adore them.
What do you do when you're having an off day- maybe feeling down, struggling with self-doubt, or just unmotivated?
Depending on the day, the weather, my overall energy level… I love to read, listen to music, get on my yoga mat and just rest in balasana or savasana.
In good weather, I’ll head down to town or the beach, being in the warm tropical air and seeing the world around me helps me center myself and reminds me of all that I’m grateful for.
What is one misconception people have about you and/or your profession?
That being a writer and understanding how to show up in our busy online world is easy and/or not a high value. That a high school kid with a Facebook account can do it so it must not be worth more than a minimum wage salary (so far from the truth!)
What is one of the biggest lessons you’ve learned along the way?
To really understand my value and what that is worth. When I was just starting out, I did a lot of work for free and really undervalued my services. I was trying to please everyone and because I was a single business owner, with just the one income to support me, I didn’t ever want to say No to clients. I was terrified of losing clients.
Now, I have learned how to say No. I will still say Yes, sometimes…but it has to feel right to me and my relationship with the client has to be one in which the work that I create is valued and respected (and paid for).
Clients that are constantly asking me to tweak my contract or add something in for free…I know pretty quickly now those situations are a rabbit hole I don’t want to jump down.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to follow a path similar to what you have?
I like to say: Make the grass green where you are first.
You have to be happy with who you are and where you are. Then you can begin to think about making changes.
Changing jobs, moving countries… they won’t necessarily make everything better, those choices won’t make all your problems go away. Sure some of them might change with a new job, new boss or new location but often, you will find yourself continuing to be unhappy, only for different reasons.
Look within, find contentment, and then decide what it is you want to do and how you want to show up in the world.
When do you feel the most inspired, alive and the most like YOU?
Fortunately, now, that is how I feel every day. I love every moment – even the not so good ones. It’s not that life is so easy (it definitely isn’t!) but I’ve learned how to live with ease and presence, courage and strength.
What people, books, music, etc. inspire you?
My favorite books are In the Heart of Life by Kathy Eldon, The Legacy of Luna by Julia Butterfly Hill and Learning to Breathe by Alison Wright. On those days when I find myself on the mat in balasana, I love listening to Sita’s Light, a beautiful, heartfelt collection of kirtan songs. Or Michael Franti when I need to do a more challenging vinyasa sequence.
The people who inspire me are those who are doing something with their life to make the world a better, more beautiful place. The authors above and Miriam Zernis from Sita’s Light all fall into that category. Colin Beavan, No Impact Man, is another person who I admire.
All these people…they inspire me because they’re actively living their lives. They’re choosing not to be on the sidelines but instead to show up and really make a difference. I’m fortunate to know some of them personally and while they’re not perfect, they do walk their talk as best they can. Authenticity is what inspires me the most.
Describe your favorite moment or accomplishment in your career so far.
My absolute favorite accomplishment is my first book, An Intentional Life. While my eco travel memoirs are a big part of who I am and having a feature in Colin Beavan’s upcoming book is so surreal (and exciting!), really An Intentional Life is the epitome of all that I am, all that I believe and value. It’s my heartfelt desire for the world – in a beautifully designed photojournalistic book.
I purposefully wrote it to reach a wide audience and both kids and adults have found it to be inspirational and moving. To know that it has touched the lives of others and supported others in recognizing (and remembering) that we are all One… That has truly made all the difference for me.
What I want my legacy to be is that I helped create more harmony in the world and I supported others in doing the same. An Intentional Life was my first real public step in doing just that.
What’s the most exciting thing going on in your life right now?
What I’m most excited about now is my signature program, Inherent Harmony. It’s based on my newest book, Lost and Found in the Land of Mañana (coming out in early 2016!).
I absolutely love supporting people in transforming their lives and really showing up in the world in a meaningful way. With Inherent Harmony, that’s exactly what I get to do. I want more people to be able to say: I’m in love with my life (and really mean it). Learn more about the program here.
Chrissy Gruninger is the founder of Sanguine Collective, an eco wellness & travel author, yoga teacher and creator of the Inherent Harmony mentoring program. She loves her 400 square foot jungle home in Costa Rica, the sunshine and the rain and passionately believes that through intentional actions we create more happiness, health and harmony in the world.