January 24, 2011

21 Things that got me through the biggest financial crisis of my life.

As I followed my boss through the hallway I thought of what could she possibly have to talk to me in such a rush after I had been away for five weeks in Thailand for yoga teacher training.

The sight of Celene, the Human Resources manager, clarified it all, after 10 years, I was being fired.

From then on it was like a movie, I saw the faces of concern, the fake extra detailed reassurance of my boss saying that it had nothing to do with my performance, the cheap talk about how this was difficult, the fear in their faces, I mean: Would I sue like everyone else does in New York City? Would I go postal? I had, after all, mortgage payments north of 2000 dollars per month in the worst housing market of the past 30 years, a car, a yoga monthly membership, credit card debt, no family in the United States, not a penny in my pocket.

Picture, right, is the house I “lost”.

Of all the shocking situations I have lived through, this one felt the most real because it had to do with survival,  with the very practical technicalities of what I was going to eat the following week, with where  I was going to sleep if my house was foreclosured, the YMCA? friend’s couches? a shelter? Time Square?

I walked back to my cubicle knowing that I could go home now, that it was all over, something I had secretly desired for years.

MS Outlook showed 2127 unread messages.  A form on my desk had a post-it in it asking me to re-do some entry in the helpdesk database, another asked for an explanation on a cell phone charge while in Hong Kong, and I suddenly felt a burst of anger, I laughed internally at how I was not going to do any of that!

In my mind I gave them all the finger, I was now beyond all those mundane things I did not care for. I was free, powerful even.

Then of course I crashed.

Walking down Six Avenue later that morning I remember looking at all the people, seeing how the world kept going in spite of my desperation, how it all seemed to go on as usual, how nobody noticed.

At some point around 46th Street I stopped dead on my tracks and in the midst of the bustle that is New York City where nobody minds if you speak alone, I looked up at the sky and clearly stated out loud:

Dear God, this is a bit much for me.  I will keep on putting one foot in front of the other but You take care of the big details cause this is frigging out of my range

And then I did put one foot in front of the other, one breath following the previous breath, andcontinued living.

Looking back I can say that many things contributed to get me through the storm and bring me back to a place of balance, happiness, stability and even reinvention.   These are 21 of them:

  1. Chanted the Gayatri mantra like I meant it and prayed to the Divine Mother
  2. Talked to children a lot, they kept me real and made me laugh
  3. Attended 12 step meetings: OA, DA, ALANON, SLAA, you name it, I have been there, and I admitted that I was powerless and I came to believe that a power “Greater than myself” could restore me to sanity.
  4. Volunteered for the meetings above and NYCares, surprisingly that was one of the most rewarding and healing things I did, it helped me more than those I thought I was helping.
  5. Focused on others and how I could help them with their issues starting with my friends
  6. Made a collage of the things I wanted to attract into my life, kept it cool, but did it anyway
  7. Realized that I wanted to be happy rather than right
  8. Remained friends with the Human Resources person, I like her
  9. Started dating again and kept actively and purposely socializing
  10. Read Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, Marianne Williamson and kept a positive mental attitude, could not afford not to.
  11. Cooked and ate at home all the time, learned a few dishes by the way, I can make a mean curry
  12. Learned to dance tango and salsa, that part was so much fun, affordable too
  13. Kept up the yoga practice, every day, oh yes
  14. Did not just look for jobs but after interviews I wrote lists to the potential employees with ideas of how they could improve their working situations (from the perspective of an IT Training Manager, which is what I was)
  15. Talked to everyone under the sun, financial advisors, bankers, psychologists, wise women of my tribe, friends, friends of friends
  16. Did not waste energy on hating or blaming, ever
  17. Walked up every morning listing all the things I was grateful for (yoga, friends, love, my family in Argentina)
  18. Gave away 90% of my possessions
  19. Meditated
  20. Slept and ate as healthy as I could on my budget
  21. Eventually, 6 months later the house was sold without having to foreclose or short sell, taking a bit of a loss, and THAT was by grace.

The day after I was fired and on the next yoga class, when I told John Cambpell (my teacher) what had happened he said to me: “This is your work now“.  He meant yoga. I smiled.

Other posts related: 32 Unusual ways to love ourselves, and a Yogi’s Guide to finding the man or woman of your dreams.

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