Be Serene

pLMC0503by Danielle Ratliff

I started out my professional life as a Registered Dietitian on the surgical floor of a hospital in 2006. I quickly realized this wasn’t the enviroment for me, so a year later I transfer to a weight management clinic thinking I would be happier in an outpatient setting. Although it was an improvement from the hospital setting, I still was unfulfilled in my career. The last straw was when I was raped in 2011 in my neighborhood. As a result of the attack, I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder complicated with anxiety and depression. I was at the lowest point in my life and attempted suicide a few months later. Luckily, I did not succeed in my attempt, and after lot of counseling and support from family and friends, battled my PTSD head on and went back to school for massage therapy.

GM-FSS-Amazon-2A month before I graduated from massage school, I had the opportunity to purchase Serenity Now Massage Therapy in August of 2012. It had been in existence for a year but was a failing business and the prior owner was moving to Asheville. I jumped on the opportunity even though my business experience was limited. In the beginning, there were two other therapists beside myself and now, less than five years later, I have grown the company to support and employ fifteen therapists. Under my leadership, I was able to turn a profit in six months and have had a 40% increase in net profit year over year, with the exception of last year, which was 30% given we are literally out of room space. I now own the building where we practice and just signed a lease on the building next door to double our current capacity.

My long-term career goal is to expand Serenity Now to the point where it can support both myself and my husband, who currently has a full-time job at an IT services company. He supported me during my difficult times, and I would like to allow him to take a step back from the corporate world. We do not have children, but I consider our three cats to be our “kids” and “furbabies”. I am thankful every day for my family and network of close friends and know that each day is a gift.

In closing, I believe that our thoughts shape our actions and our actions shape our realities. I think we can constantly reinvent ourselves and grow provided we think positively and find the good in our situations. I believe in this evolution of self so strongly that I had a phoenix tattooed on my back as a reminder that I refused to be confined or defined by negative experiences in my past. Instead, I have risen from the ashes and learned to look towards the future at all times.

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