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 absorved 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 NYC?
Would I cry? 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.
Of all the shocking situations I have lived through this one felt the most real because it had to do 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 couch? a shelter? Time Square?
I remember walking back into 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, and another asked for an explanation of a cell phone charge while in Hong Kong. I felt a burst of anger and laughed out loud. 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 people and seeing how the world kept going even 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 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, one moment following the other. I 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:
- Realized that I wanted to be happy rather than right
- Gave away 90% of my possessions -kind of had no choice, I was selling the house. Ended up being the best decision of my life.
- Allowed myself the opportunity to cry and feel like a failure. Then washed my face and kept going.
- Remained friends with the Human Resources person, I like her.
- Attended 12 step meetings, OA, DA, ALANON, SLAA. I admitted that I was powerless and I came to believe that a power "Greater than myself" could restore me to sanity.
- Volunteered for the meetings above and NYCares, surprisingly that was one of the most rewarding and healing things I did. Helping others ended up helping me. Funny, I know.
- Woke up every morning to coffee, shower, and getting dressed. I meant business regardless of what the so-called "reality" suggested.
- Made a collage of the things I wanted to attract into my life, kept it cool, but did it anyway (see #1 above)
- Started dating again and kept actively and purposely socializing.
- Learned to dance tango and salsa. That part was so much fun. Affordable too.
- Read Wayne Dyer, Chopra and Marianne Williamson, I was in search for miracles. Learned that the biggest miracle of all is that of switching our own perceptions.
- Chanted the Gayatri mantra like I meant it. Guess how many benefits this mantra brings?
- Cooked and ate at home all the time. Learned a few dishes by the way, I can make a mean curry.
- Kept up the yoga practice, every day.
- 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)
- Talked to everyone under the sun, financial advisors, bankers, psychologists, wise women of my tribe, friends, friends of friends.
- Did not waste energy on hating or blaming. Could not afford to.
- Walked up every morning listing all the things I was grateful for (yoga, friends, love, my family in Argentina)
- Slept and ate as healthy as I could on my budget
- Eventually, 6 months later, the house was sold without having to foreclose or short sell, taking a bit of a loss which was financed by borrowing from the 401K.
The day after I was fired, on my next yoga class, when I told John Cambpell (my yoga teacher) what had happened he said to me: "This is your work now". He meant yoga. I smiled.
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