Heart-centered Q&A with the Founder of Synergetic Spaces + Damselfly Digital, Erin Marie Ratliff
If you're anything like me, selecting a coach or consultant to bring into your life requires hours of research, scrolling and "stalking" to find that perfect fit and vibe. So if that's what brought you to this page, then to you I say "WELCOME" with open arms. It's so nice to meet you!
The purpose of this post is to provide deeper insight to my quirks and inner workings so that you can get to know me better personally and professionally. This is me being open and vulnerable as possible in the hopes that YOU will be able to do the same when we work together in the future, whether that is through an upcoming energy attunement in your home, or a marketing project for your growing business.
Whether it's in your self, your space, or your space, I believe that TRANSPARENCY opens the doors for TRANSFORMATION.
First off, my Personal Disclaimer
You see I may see me preach and project the ideal of this "perfect" life but as you'll see below, I am FAR from perfect myself, In reality, true perfection is unattainable and as a result we each set our own definition of perfect.
I have worked really hard to create a life that feels in perfect alignment with my true and authentic self. But I am dedicated to the LIFE-LONG journey of self discovery and cultivation. I don’t claim to have all the answers, and am committed to learning every day and every way. In other words, I am allowing myself to change and grow while empowering and helping others do the same.
We are ALL a giant work in progress - evolving and growing every day. Change is a beautiful, and completely natural thing! I believe that we should try our best every new day. And if your ascension doesn't happen in this lifetime then you are always given the opportunity to try again in your next one ;)
Like an onion, I have many layers
Most people will be surprised to find out that I am a walking set of contradictions. I am a plant lover with a black thumb, a foodie who can't cook, and a productivity master who loves naps. Confused? Think about how I feel!
The Wanderlusted Homebody. I have an innate urge to nest while simultaneously needing to be completely free from the bounds of domesticity.
The Procrastinating Workahaulic. I am extremely hard-working but also remarkably lazy (or is it efficient?)
The Anxious Adventurer. I crave expansive new experiences, but I am also overcautious and risk-averse.
The Insecure Overachiever. I have big dreams, but imposter syndrome is my middle name.
The Type A Gypsy. I crave structure, order and routine but I also resent strict rules and conformity. I value the unconventional, the eccentric and quirky.
The Wounded Optimist. I cherish love, chase happiness yet I am quite familiar with pain and sadness.
The Classy Hippie. I am both materially AND spiritually driven (I want nice clothes, AND a nice afterlife - what's wrong with that?)
The Cynical Pollyanna I can find beauty in nearly everything, but I always see the shortcomings, flaws and areas for improvement.
The Anti-Social Social Butterfly. As an 'ambivert" (extroverted introvert) I genuinely love people but they also exhaust me. I inevitably will always need to retreat to solitude to recharge my energy.
Being a hyper-curious, multi-passionate, multi-dimensional multi-potentialite is both a torturous yet wonderful existence, and like the Yin and Yang I accept it all. Life is so much richer and interesting this way, but from the outside looking in, most people are not quite sure what to make of me. At the end of the day I am like everyone else- much too complex to be put in a box. Cheers to all of the essential polarities in life!
I am an...
Eco Worshiper / Sun Chaser / Geo Explorer / Obstacle Overcomer/ Conundrum Solver / Status Quo Challenger / Corporate Escapist / Spiritual Seeker / Witchy Woman / Soul Adventurer / Positivity Producer / Energy Alchemist / Vibe Feeler / Consciousness Decoder / Purposeful Polymath / Transformation Facilitator / Zealous Humanitarian / Pagan Practitioner / Pseudo Scientist / Metaphysical Interpreter / Lifelong Aesthete / Devoted Philokalist
The dual nature of my personality, needs, talents, and interests manifest in my career as an entrepreneur as well. Because I despise the term "Life Coach" and "Digital Marketer" is far too vague - here are some more clever job titles I have come up with as a "Free-Spirited Freelancer"
At this point, you are either completely overwhelmed and turned off, or very intrigued. Keep reading if it's the latter! :)
BACKGROUND & STORY
My childhood was kind of ideal.... happily married parents, one lovely sibling, a supportive extended family, an amazing public education, a minimalist modern home in rural Virginia, defined by decades of immersive nature experiences and outdoor adventures.
My teenage years were a different story. I spent lunchtime hiding in a bathroom stall because I was suddenly ostracized from my peer group and had too much social anxiety to find new friends. I felt a deeply depressing sense of un-belonging and misunderstanding. So when I finally mustered the courage to put my self out there, it was not a genuine and authentic version - it was what I thought people wanted of me. Unfortunately this toxic pattern of people-pleasing continued well into my adulthood- until my Great Becoming.
As a Geography major, I originally wanted to be an urban planner (yes- a scientifically accepted version of feng shui!), however at that time after college I knew I would get restless with an office job. My inner camp-counselor took over and I began to pursue a career in Environmental Education, getting certified by both federal and state institutions to present outdoor curriculum-based programming to youth and adults. Those years in nature were fun and formative, but I longed for a more "adult" job.
The irony is that years later I eventually wound up with that dreaded cubicle job that I ran from! For over a decade I worked as a digital marketer specializing in social media, SEO, and PR for agencies and nonprofits, all the while exploring my passions (nature, service work, and storytelling) in my own way and at my own pace.
All of these things have come together today to manifest in my two primary creative business ventures. Synergetic Spaces and Damselfly Digital. Two different industries that share one thing in common: encouraging others to learn, grow and thrive in their journey to abundance by deepening their connection to Self and the Earth.
Looking back on my career I've done it all... From Retail to Hospitality & Tourism to Education to Marketing & Events. I am grateful to have had a winding and diverse career path full of so much professional growth and development. I can be a bit insecure about my apparent "lack of clarity, focus or direction" but on the other hand, I wouldn't be who I am today without all of those varied experiences!
For anyone who judges my job-hopping tendencies or questions my non-linear career path to them I ask: What is the point in suffering down a path that doesn't fulfill your needs energetically or financially? I'd much rather be true to myself than go through the motions of a job just for the optics of longevity. It's far more sustainable to attach yourself to a mission/calling/purpose than a specific company, organization or project.
Today I practice what I preach to my clients in my own life: always seeking to adapt, improve and grow, trying new things and not settling for anything that doesn't serve my highest potential.
SPIRIT & SOUL
My Ikigai (the Japanese term for "your reason for being” or purpose)....
You're looking at it right now! Content creation and coaching relating to personal and planetary healing:
Energy alignment and alchemy, elemental wisdom,
Personal and professional development, self-actualization,
Practical spirituality, depth psychology and psychoenergetics
Holistic wellness, lifestyle design and environmental sustainability.
My Soul Mission in Life:
To create something from the source of my inner spirit that is purposeful and powerful enough to help others elevate their lives. This happens by optimizing their physical spaces, whether that is a home, office or website.
Favorite Mantras & Mottos
"Leave everything better than you found it." To me this wisdom goes deeper than my obvious line of work. It's about integrity - doing the right thing even when no one is watching, always putting the greater good above the self.
"She turned her CANTs into CANs and her dreams into plans." This quote resonates with because I am a dreamer, a doer, and a thinker. I see possibility and potential everywhere I go and in whatever I do.
"Do what you love and the money will follow". This is true in almost all cases, but the key is to know what that "love" really feels like. It comes from your deepest core, and takes a ton of self-discovery, introspection, reflection and uncovering.
"Work smarter, not harder" I thrive in efficiency systems and organizational effectiveness. I am always looking to optimize my time and productivity - learning how to save energy and create the path of least resistance (and burnout). I wish the rest of the world valued creative intelligence and simplicity in this same way.
I Geek Out on...
All things process and systems related- whether it is frameworks and schools in feng shui, or marketing theory or content strategy.
I Could Spend Hours... reading, writing, and mind-mapping.
My favorite part of my job is... creating real and lasting change in people's lives, while also impacting the larger collective.
I strive to live my life and operate my business with... Integrity, Authenticity and Compassion.
"Awkward in Small Talk, Fluent in Soul Talk"
I am a full-on INFJ, aka “the Mystic, the Counselor, the Dreamer," What does that mean?
Introverted: individualistic, reserved, cerebral
Intuitive: idealistic, complex, perceptive
Feeling: sensitive, heartfelt, empathetic, visionary
Judging: consistent, conscientious, contemplative
Humble brag: This means I am in good company with the likes of Ghandi, Carl Jung, and Audrey Hepburn. Indeed, this is the rarest MBTI type, occupying only 2% of population, (which explains why I often go through life feeling so misunderstood by others - the Empathetic Introvert is truly a mystery to most!)
Enneagram: 3/ "The Achiever", followed closely by 6/"The Skeptic" and 4/"The Individualist"
Human Design: Generator (Multi-passionate, responsive, and creative but prone to frustration when not in alignment/flow or when acting without clear and direct inspiration)
People often describe me as...
“Calm”. The irony is that I almost never feel that energy on the inside! I am really great at looking like I have it together but my mind and body often feels quite the opposite: tense and distracted, almost exclusively when I am around others. This is what psychologists refer to as "high functioning social anxiety".
My Double-edge Sword...
My intensity and intuition. I am at both my best and worst when I am overthinking, over-planning, and over-analyzing. When overstimulated I transform into a overzealous person who thinks, care and feel deeply with pretty much everything - a quality which is too much for some, and just right for others :)
I am constantly struggling internally with
Confidence & visibility (Phone-phobic, Camera shy, socially awkward)
Math anxiety / Numerical blindness (I run from almost anything involving numbers)
Imposter Syndrome (on=going self-doubt and insecurity)
My Superpower is...
At work: visioning, planning and follow-through.
In life: grit and determination.
Check out my official manifesto for more...
JUST FOR FUN
How I Learn: Through writing
How I Love: Through teaching
How I Laugh: Through dancing
Greatest Fear: Loss of autonomy, sovereignty and/or living my whole life on someone else's terms.
Greatest Accomplishment: My daughter Wren. I made my best friend!
Personal Hell: Some sort of social gathering with strangers that involves a greasy buffet dinner, "forced fun" icebreaker activities and getting your picture taken
I am a Collector of... crystals, essential oils, sacred adornments, photos and memories.
Never Have I Ever... labeled the inside of my refrigerator ;)
Irrational Fear: accidentally losing my cellphone in the washing machine.
I am currently obsessed with...NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming - or "the study of excellence", using the mind to achieve your true potential and peak performance. It is a tool for coaches and therapists to better understand and communicate with their clients and customers.
Guilty Pleasures: white wine, dark chocolate, reality tv. No judgement!
Go-to Comfort Meal: Adult grilled cheese (artisanal sourdough, mayo, havarti, avocado, tomato)
My Happy Place is... around a campfire with friends or family after a day exploring a national park or other public wildlands
I Can't Function Without ... Lists and Spreadsheets.
I Used to be... an Early Adopter, always on the cusp of every trend in music, lifestyle, decor etc. Then I stopped paying attention to everything on the outside and began to look inwards more.
My Favorite Healing Modality is... EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique / Tapping)
My Perfect Day would look like...Sleeping in, a morning hike, croissant breakfast sandwich and herbal tea, grinding away at content for several hours, checking a few errands off the to-do list, happy hour gathering with friends, dinner delivery, binge-watching Friends, the Office, or reading in bed.
The Biggest Obstacle I have Overcome is... Unexplained infertility - recurrent pregnancy loss and ectopic pregnancy
Favorite Chapter in my Life thus far: I was a professional forest-dweller during three consecutive Summers spent as a nature camp counselor in Virginia.
Unpopular opinion: The beach - not a fan! Extreme heat and sun, sand that sticks to everything, dangerous sea creatures, violent waves. The only redeeming part of a beach experience is looking for seashells at sunrise or sunset. There, I said it!
Most Influential Books
Serious non-fiction junkie here...
Let my People go Surfing by Yvonne Choiunard
Untamed by Glennon Doyle
Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg
A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle
4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris
Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne
Women who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes
When Things Fall Apart Pema Chodron
Anything by Liz Gilbert
Most Formative Travel Experience
1) An RV trip from Anchorage to Asheville in 2009. Here I fell in love with #roadlife before it was even cool, and vowed to commit my life to simple, intentional living.
2) My solo trip to Brazil for month-long service work. Combining the intimidation of solitude with the adventure of international travel is a massive self confidence builder.
Most Intense Physical Experience
From 2007-2009 I trained for and ran a marathon and a few half-marathons. And I can honestly say I haven't run since then!
When I want to Cheer myself up... I eat popcorn and watch the airplane scene from Bridesmaids.
A few More Random Facts
1) I've been a strict vegetarian for nearly 30 years (long before it was cool!).
2) I don't eat fruit unless its fresh off the vine, or in a smoothie from frozen. Also I find bananas to be completely repulsive (but banana bread is a different story....)
3) I am a distant relative of Woodrow Wilson.
4) I have a horrible memory unless I have written something down or have a picture of it
That’s enough about me. Tell me something interesting about YOU!
Or maybe you have a question about how my myriad of services can benefit your life? Ask away!
If any of my weirdness resonated with you, that probably means we'll get along great! I look forward to working with you soon. :)
Erin Marie Ratliff is an alignment & alchemy specialist and holistic growth strategist based in Asheville, NC and serving clients nationwide. Visit synergeticspaces.com for energetic and environmental services for earth-minded individuals who aspire to live to their full potential and happiness.
feng shui consulting
Visit damseflydigital.com. for freelance copywriting and communications services for holistic small businesses serving the greater good.
marketing science and strategy