[This is a guest post Claudia wrote on how she survived the financial crisis. I think there’s a common thread among “survivors” of a deep financial crisis and that’s an ability to transform and change the way you think, the way you deal with stress, and your views on what the meaning of success and freedom are].
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 foreclosed, 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 help desk 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, and continued 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. Prayed. Prayer allows your body to release the tension and to surrender to whatever higher power you believe in. If even for just a few minutes
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
10. Read Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, Marianne Williamson and kept a positive mental attitude, could not afford not to
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
17. Woke up every morning listing all the things I was grateful for (yoga, friends, love, my family in Argentina)
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
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