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

Via Claudia Azula Altucher
on Jan 23, 2011
get elephant's newsletter

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.


About Claudia Azula Altucher

Claudia Azula Altucher has studied yoga for a long time. Her only focus these past eight years has been on Ashtanga through which she studied at the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute in Mysore, India (three study visits so far), and at Centered Yoga in Thailand (focus on practice, philosophy and pranayama). Currently she studies at Pure Yoga in NYC. She has taught yoga classes in both Spanish and English. She is also the Author of: 21 Things To Know Before Starting an Ashtanga Yoga Practice (you can get a free PDF at her blog). She writes daily at ClaudiaYoga.com And you can follow her on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ClaudiaYoga


35 Responses to “21 Things that got me through the biggest financial crisis of my life.”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Waylon Lewis, DoubleDeuce, Matthew Winters, Bob Weisenberg, Red Fox and others. Red Fox said: 21 Things that got me through the biggest financial crisis of my life http://bit.ly/dKY7Sv […]

  2. elissa says:

    Wonderful. Just what I needed to hear today.

  3. Pamela says:

    A lesson in bravery.

  4. Ben_Ralston says:

    At a time when many people are going through similar situations – seemingly forced into a position that they wouldn't consciously choose to be in – it's wonderful that you share your story of hope.
    I believe we're entering an age in which it's no longer appropriate to keep on doing the same old mindless things – wasting our precious lives away doing jobs, or in relationships, or in addictive behavior, that we don't really believe in.

  5. Elissa, glad you liked it, thank you for commenting 🙂

  6. Thank you Pamela 🙂

  7. Ben, yes I agree, it is a new time that is coming, and we are getting more honest with what our real path is. Thank you for writing

  8. Sasha says:

    I really enjoyed reading this article. I think a lot of people in today's economic times can relate. Thanks for your positivity.

  9. Sasha, nice to meet you, thank you for your comment and I am glad you like the positivity… I tend to live by it 🙂

  10. Maria says:

    Claudia, great story, and great advice. I have been on a similar track the past 6/7 months, my yoga practise has been the glue holding me together most days.
    Its been a wonderful tool to have at my disposal – and I now know what my teacher Paul dallaghan refers to when he says "yoga is a tool to help you live your life better"
    Thank you for your insigghtful post.
    Heres hoping 2011 is a great year for us all 🙂

  11. Maria, thank you for your comment, and I totally understand what you mean when you say that yoga has kept you on track, it is the "glue" that is a good word… I also studied with Paul… "cosmic connections" like a Guru said to a friend of mine here in Mysore… I appreciate you commenting, and yes to a yoga 2011

  12. Maureen Miller says:

    Claudia, I love your posts.. .thank you for sharing so much of yourself… I personally enjoyed numbers 1, 2, 10 and 13.

  13. Thank you Maureen, and yes those are good ones, I especially liked talking to children, their innocence is very similar to what yoga is all about. I appreciate your comment

  14. John says:

    I read a bit by the Dali Lama recently and his opinion is…

    "Challenges and suffering offer you the most chance for growth in your life and you should value your suffering and your enemies as if they are a lost treasure, because our greatest challenges are actually rare in our lives and offer us the best opportunities for personal growth."

  15. John, absolutely!, so good of you to bring the words of the Dali Lama, thank you

  16. Katie says:

    thank you for sharing claudia! I have gone through a very similar transition the last 2 years. thank you for sharing your insights. these reminders were very needed today!

  17. John Mutrux says:

    Claudia, loved your story. I’m sharing it w/ my friend who just had emergency open-heart surgery (five by-passes.)Thank you

  18. Kala says:

    Claudia (of my goodness) read my story also here at Ele http://www.elephantjournal.com/2011/01/how-to-qui…! It's so funny that we just connected as bloggers-our stories have so much in common. I haven't even finished reading yours yet but just know that the Universe is shifting us to a better truer place especially us "spiritual folks". I know that because it's happening to so many people.

  19. YesuDas says:

    Terrific stuff once again, Claudia; thanks for sharing so much of your self and experience.

  20. Shannon says:

    Claudia, what a positive and inspiring list of "do's" — balancing professional/active tasks connecting with others and personal, self care tasks such as yoga and processing groups. Beautiful, and smart!

    I am a resume writer & interview skills coach and will be reposting your article to share with all my readers and clients for the inspiration you provide from someone that has been in a situation much like they are.

    I personally believe that taking care of our emotional and spiritual needs in a time of job loss and similar situations are just as key to updating a resume, practicing interview skills, and all the professional activities people always say are most important.

    It is, in my professional opinion, at least as vital to your ultimate success to work through our feelings of bitterness, anger, despair, fear, rejection (etc.) as you did so that those emotions do not come across in a job interview or color our decisions about which jobs to apply for or accept.

    We always want to come to a potential employer and job offer from a place of strength, peace, and confidence. All the personal work you listed here is so vital to do during a job search! The details of what that personal work might look like will be different for everyone (they might read different books, do different activities/groups, etc.), it's the healing, processing and action that is important, whatever that looks like for each person.

    Thank you for giving voice to that aspect of job searching. It will be JUST the piece many people needed to read, I guarantee it.


  21. Katie, guess we were in the same boat, my story is from 09… I am happy you liked it

  22. John, my prayers reach out to you and your friend, may he be healed, may he be happy!, I cannot even imagine what five by-passes must feel like, what a test, what a path… I hope he writes about it! 🙂

  23. Just did, so funny how the universe connects us all on the same thread of happiness – suffering – re-invention… I have to say I find that I do not make a distinction as we think we are all spiritual weather we want it or hide it behind anger or resentment or whatever it might be… and that we are all awakening, it is beautiful. I think I already have your blog in my blogroll, so we can stay in touch…

  24. YesuDas, thanks for saying that 🙂

  25. Shannon, yes, big task you have on your hands there working with clients that come at this very tender moment in their lives… Let me know when you share it, maybe I can answer comments should there be some, I feel that we need community around this topic, because it is such a place of desolation and disorientation… 🙂 Thanks for your comment

  26. Zarathustra says:

    Number 18 has pushed you onto my heroes list…thank you! Very inspiring!

  27. Zarathustra, thanks 🙂 my ego is very happy to read those words and I am tempted to take all the credit, must confess that having to sell the house played a big role, but the lesson was learned anyway and I feel so much lighter 🙂 thanks for commenting

  28. ajay says:

    just what you need to read when going through a difficult time, as i am at present. any more points besides these 21, do write. ajay

  29. Ajay, I would say that these are as a whole what I did… I wish you strenght as you go through this, and perhaps one thing I could add is what my teacher here in Mysore reminded us of last Sunday, keep connecting with spirit, in whatever form you do it (yoga, meditation, prayer), and the answers will become apparent as of what the next step is 🙂 wish you good luck!

  30. Jill Barth says:

    Thanks for this gesture of honesty and peace.

    We do gain from what we “lose” but it is a test; thanks for your perspective.


  31. Thanks Jill, and you are right it is a test, very much so, does not feel so "intereting" as it is happening, it feels indeed like you are being tested, with all the emotions that go with it. I am glad you liked it. enjoyed your blog too 🙂

  32. […] Whether we realize it or not, we are all now capital. Not liking things sells just as much as liking things. What we eat, what we buy, what we say, we’re all part of this virtual sales game. Connecting right back to what we do when we’re offline. […]

  33. […] to our spiritual development. Related posts: 32 Unusual Ways to Practice Concentration 21 Things that got me through the biggest financial crisis of my life 32 Yoga Quotes that Jolt me Back into Center A Yogis Guide to Finding the Man or Woman of Your […]