Corinne Segura is a blogger and green building materials specifier. Her website, My Chemical-Free House, launched in 2016 with the mission to help those with environmental sensitivities choose healthy materials for new builds and renovations. Corinne has grown the blog from a small side project to a full-time business in its own right and also provides one-on-one consulting services for building material selection.
Thank you for sharing your story with us. What is your professional background? How did you end up with this career?
I am a green building materials specifier and blogger. When I came down with severe multiple chemical sensitivities and mold illness I had to create housing for myself made of special materials. After building a tiny house on wheels that was made of safer materials I started to further my education in Building Biology and related construction fields. That helped build my knowledge base in this field and I began writing a blog about green building materials and helping others one-on-one to choose safer building materials.
While I don't have a university degree in this field, I'm lucky that I have a multidisciplinary degree that helped me to improve my analytical skills, read scientific papers and to write at a higher level.
How did you begin your remote work journey? Where do you see yourself in the next year? What tips do you have for others who are working remotely?
My job has always been remote. Since I have been physically disabled since day one I needed a job I could do not just from home but from bed. Everything has evolved with this limitation which has helped to set boundaries and a container over what I can do and actually kept me more focused on how to build an online business and profitable blog.
In the next year, I will continue growing the content of the blog. I also continue to take classes on topics in my field to stay up to date in my knowledge and to stay competitive on search engines.
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My experience has shown that you don't need to get up at the same time every day, make a schedule, put on work clothes or use any other "tricks" to work remotely from home. I simply hold the vision and have a strong sense of mission on what I want to accomplish. My daily or weekly goals are very fluid and this has worked well for me and has still allowed me to build a successful business.
I'm blessed to have a life coach that understands my illness and limitations and helps me create flexible goals within that framework.
What is your self-care routine and how do you find time to integrate it into your daily life?
In the past, my self-care has been poor, as working took precedent over everything else, but now it's incredibly important to me to maintain my health above all. I stop whenever I feel myself pushing myself to take a break. Every day I meditate, listen to uplifting talks, take some time to do something pleasurable that is not work-related, and prioritize eating well and taking all my many supplements.
I have extremely firm boundaries with what I will and won't do for clients and I no longer take on more than what my body comfortably allows.
I get less work done with this schedule, but it's worth it to me right now. This can be very challenging when there is a push and pull between survival needs (money), and survival needs (health).
Putting yourself first is important to your overall wellness. Given this, what are your best holistic wellness tips?
The best tip is to create a job that is flexible that allows you to step back when you are pushing yourself. I would also say start with a job that doesn't require that constant battle with other people. Starting with a job that flows well in your life will make wellness easy. Otherwise, we are constantly in repair mode after a tough day of pushing, pulling and straining to then have to transition back into our bodies.
Different personalities and genders have different needs in work environments. Getting in touch with what structures truly work for you and your wellness is key.
For me working with others on a daily basis is very stressful and would not be conducive to my health goals. The more I can create a self-guided, solo job, with flexible hours the better I can take care of myself. (For others this might be very boring or lonely!)
What was the toughest challenge you faced during your career?
The toughest challenge was falling very ill and becoming unable to work in the field that I have a degree in. I could no longer work in international development or even in local community development. Now that I have a good sense of the online world, I can see that there probably could have been an opportunity there for an online blog or business. But at the time I did not see those opportunities.
I changed fields and careers in order to better accommodate my new abilities.
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How did you get through that period? What advice for people dealing with similar difficulties?
I went through the loss of the original career and gave that some time to let that go. I was on government Disability so I had some time in which I didn't work. I focused on my health to see how things would land. When the mud settled, I simply followed another passion of mine that was much more suitable to working from bed and at flexible times and hours. Not having pressure to make money for a while (even though I was very poor) really helped me hone in on what I really wanted to do next.
From there I slowly and steadily built my blog and consulting business.
Mental health and feeling good are crucial to maximizing performance. How do you prioritize your mental health?
I've been blessed with naturally stable mental health. The consequences of pushing myself are primarily physical for me.
I'm lucky in that I naturally have a hopeful, cheerful, and grateful attitude. Though practicing gratitude, positive visualizations of the future, and cultivating cheerfulness and humor have helped me. I make an effort every day to cultivate these attitudes.
The most important thing I need for my mental health is to spend some time with friends. That is what keeps me stable above all. Having a best friend is a true blessing.
Before the pandemic hit, you may have worked in an office or corporate setting, but what do you foresee happening now? How do you see companies allowing employees to work post-pandemic?
I worked from home before the pandemic so the structure of my work did not change at all. What I have seen as a major improvement is access to online courses and other educational materials that were previously not online before. This was a bit deal for people with disabilities, and it will help a lot of people get the education they need for online work. It's sad that it took a pandemic to make that accessible.
I have also seen a lot more competition in the blogging world since the pandemic hit as more people looked for work from home. This is good in the sense that we will have a lot more quality information online in the future.
A downside is that there are a lot more scammy schemes out there on how to make money from home, and I imagine that is a little overwhelming to sort out for someone just starting out.
Online products and services will continue to boom for sure, including more digital products than before. I think more people will stick with running their own businesses from home, even if the pandemic ends.
If you could have lunch with one person in the world, who would it be and why?
I would like to have lunch with Joe Dispenza. I would like to get his take on neuroplasticity methods to help me heal from my chronic illness. I very much believe that both scientific methods and spiritual methods can create healing and it would be neat to be inspired by his story close up up and hear personalized feedback on what I could do. I will always believe in healing, even though my illness technically has no cure.
If you could inspire a movement, what would it be and why?
I would want to inspire a movement toward healthier housing. There is so much that has to be done here! Starting with better education and qualifications for builders so that they build houses that are more resistant to mold. Building standards and inspections also need to improve so that buildings are built properly - so that water damage and condensation are prevented.
Then in terms of materials, I would want to see much stricter regulations on VOC (volatile organic compound) levels of products that go into a home - that would go a long way to creating housing that supports people's health and is more accessible for folks with environmental illnesses. I would also want to see a ban on chemical air fresheners.
I would also like to see a movement towards healthier prefabs so that we have healthy housing that can be assembled fast for folks who are homeless from environmental illnesses.
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Website is www.mychemicalfreehouse.net